The US Defense Department is preparing to send Ukraine another military assistance tranche, said US Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Voice of America reports.
“We have another tranche coming up at this time. I think it’s around $250 million, and the Department of Defense supported it last time. I imagine we’ll support it next time around. But there are always checks we have to do. We always look for how it is being used and whether they are addressing corruption,” said Mark Esper.
When asked whether the tranche would be affected by the impeachment process and the allegations regarding the holding of the defense aid, Esper responded that it would not.
“No, I think we’re doing a pretty good job staying out of it. I stay out of politics and want to keep the Defense Department out of it,” he said.
Esper also noted that it was not the Defense Department which delayed the aid, and that the department is also considering providing lethal weaponry to Ukraine, based on three considerations.
“Firstly, is it important to Ukraine with regard to their ability to engage the Russians? Have the Ukrainians sufficiently addressed corruption; and number three: Are our allies in the region also providing security assistance to the Ukrainians to assist them? The answer to all three was ‘yes’, so we supported the provision of that aid,” the Pentagon chief remarked.
US Congress approved $250 million in military assistance for Ukraine through the Pentagon, but in July 2019, US President Donald Trump asked acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney to suspend the funds. The funds were frozen only around September 11 after numerous inquiries from Congress regarding the reason for the decision.
The holding of Ukraine’s military aid became the basis of the impeachment process against Trump, who was allegedly trying to get Ukraine to start an investigation against Hunter Biden, son of Joe Biden, one of Trump’s top political competitors.