AP explains: The delay in US aid to Ukraine

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration’s delayed release of $250 million in military aid to Ukraine is coming under new scrutiny in light of a whistleblower complaint about President Donald Trump. Here’s a look at what’s known about the gap in U.S. assistance.

HELP AGAINST RUSSIAN AGGRESSION

The United States began providing military aid to the government of Ukraine shortly after Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. With Ukraine’s new president still grappling with separatist rebels in the east, the aid has long been viewed as a measure of Washington’s determination to push back against Russian President Vladimir Putin.

But over the summer, it emerged that the Trump administration was delaying the release of this year’s $250 million installment.

It is a decision cloaked in mystery. By late August, according to congressional aides, the White House budget office acknowledged it was responsible for the delays, saying a policy review was underway.

“The President has been consulting with his national security leadership team to determine the best use of Ukraine security assistance funds to achieve US national security interests,” Office of Management and Budget staff wrote in an email to House Appropriations Committee staff aides. Agencies, OMB said, “must wait to obligate them until the policy review process is complete and the President had made a final determination.”

OMB declined to comment on the record.

News of the hold-up alarmed Ukraine’s many supporters in Congress, including members of the House and Senate appropriations committees, which were moving on separate tracks to rebuke the administration. House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey added a provision to a House stopgap spending bill to ensure the 2019 Ukraine funds would remain available after the Sept. 30 end of the fiscal year. The White House informed lawmakers Sept. 11 that it was releasing the money.

The struggle was resolved only a couple of days after lawmakers returned to Washington from their summer recess, with the administration releasing the funds.

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