US Senate approves military aid for Ukraine

On September 18, the US Senate supported the key elements of the amendments to the US National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2018, which increases assistance to Ukraine in the area of security.

The bill envisions the provision of $500 million of security assistance, including lethal and non-lethal equipment, training and technical assistance, Voice of America reports.

This is the first time the bill allows for aid to be given to increase Ukraine’s naval capabilities, which deteriorated significantly following Russia’s capture of the Crimea, said one of the co-authors of the amendments, Rob Portman, who is also a member of the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and co-founder of the Senate Ukraine Caucus.

The US assistance will be provided on condition that progress is made in key reforms of Ukraine’s defense sector, including instituting civilian control of the military, cooperation and coordination with Ukrainian parliamentary efforts to exercise oversight of the Ministry of Defense and military forces, and improvements in sustainment capabilities, inventory management, and security of sensitive foreign technologies, Senator Portman’s commentary on the act states.

“There is longstanding bipartisan agreement on the policy tools that the United States should utilize as part of its comprehensive strategy to support Ukraine, deter future aggression against our allies and interests, and uphold the fundamental principles of the U.S.-led international system that Russia’s actions ultimately threaten. Now, the United States Senate is taking a critical step forward in its support for Ukraine,” said Senator Portman. “As Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine persists, and as it continues to utilize hybrid warfare techniques such as propaganda and disinformation, it is critical that the U.S. and NATO provide the sustained economic, political, and military support necessary to allow Ukraine to secure its democratic future. An independent Ukraine is critical not just to Eastern Europe, but it also impacts broader U.S. interests in the region and beyond.”

Portman disclosed details of the amendment.

The funds are authorized for two years so that the US Defense Department and State Department have enough time to allocate and spend the funds.

The bill provides greater detail on the conditions of the aid and methodology for certifying Ukrainian progress toward much-needed defense institutional reforms. Key improvement goals now include sustainment, inventory management, and progress in improving the security of proprietary or sensitive foreign defense technology.

Air and coastal defense radars, naval mine and counter-mine capabilities, and littoral and coastal defense craft have been included in the list of authorized U.S. assistance. These additions reflect the Ukrainian military’s most pressing needs that have not been covered under previous authorizations such as anti-tank weapons, secure communications, and counter-artillery radar.

The bill makes it easier for U.S. assistance to cover medical and non-medical costs associated with caring for wounded Ukrainian service members and facilitating greater medical training and support for the Ukrainians 

On September 18, President Petro Poroshenko announced that the US Senate had ratified the FY 2018 NDAA, which proposes the allocation of $500 million to support Ukraine in the area of security and defense.

  military aid for Ukraine, US Senate