The U.S. government on June 18 denied holding up security assistance for Ukraine.
Politico and other Western media had reported on the same day that the White House had temporarily halted a military aid package worth up to $100 million, that would include lethal weapons. The package was put together in response to the major Russian troop build-up along Ukraine’s border this spring, which raised fears of an all-out invasion.
Politico cited four inside sources in reporting that the U.S. National Security Council put the financial package on hold ahead of U.S. President Joe Biden’s summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Russia’s announcement that it would draw down its troops also played into the decision, according to Politico.
Biden’s administration categorically denied these reports.
“The idea that we have held back security assistance to Ukraine is nonsense. Just last week—in the run-up to the U.S.-Russia Summit—we provided a $150 million package of security assistance, including lethal assistance,” White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said in a statement.
“We have now provided the entire amount appropriated by Congress through the Ukraine security assistance initiative. Two days before the Summit, President Biden stood on the stage before the entire world at NATO and said that we would keep putting Ukraine ‘in the position to be able to continue to resist Russian physical aggression’.”
The White House also said it had “also prepared contingency funds in the event of a further Russian incursion into Ukraine” and that it would “stand unwavering in support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The reports on the alleged delay in military assistance follow other conciliatory moves by the Biden administration towards the Kremlin.
In May Biden waived key sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 pipeline in the Baltic Sea, prompting bipartisan protests in the U.S. Congress, as well as dismay from Ukraine and its friends and allies around the world.
U. S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken claimed that the U.S. would “continue to oppose the completion of this project, which would weaken European energy security and that of Ukraine and Eastern flank NATO and European Union countries.”
However, given that the main Swiss-registered company involved in the project and its CEO have escaped U.S. sanctions, the completion of the pipeline this year seems certain unless the Biden administration suddenly changes its mind.
The decision was a victory for Russia and Germany, which lobbied the U.S. to not sanction the pipeline.