That certification that Kiev was making progress in the fight against corruption, in improving transparency and in strengthening civil surveillance was required by law to allow the continuation of the assistance package. The package represents the second half of the $ 250 million in Ukraine for security assistance that was allocated by Congress in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act.
A Pentagon spokesman declined to comment on assistance on Wednesday, citing a department policy not to comment on the arms packages that are under congressional scrutiny.
The new service package includes mobile radar systems designed to detect and track incoming artillery and rocket fire, dozens of ambulances, secure communication equipment, including 100 “tactical tablets” and two patrol boats, the latter considered particularly important, given that Ukraine tensions with Russia in the Black Sea and the Azov Sea.
In 2018, Russian forces seized three Ukrainian ships and captured 24 Ukrainian sailors following a clash in the Kerch Strait linking the Black Sea and the Azov Sea and is the only access route for ships traveling to the Eastern port cities of Ukraine.
The Sea of Azov has a maximum depth of only 14 meters and is therefore too shallow for most warships, making it the ideal environment for Mark VI type patrol boats.
Russia seized and annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 and tensions between Kiev and Moscow in the region remain high. The Ukrainian government accused Russia on Wednesday of continuing to act aggressively in the region during a meeting of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
“The representative of Ukraine noted that Russia is hindering navigation in the Azov-Black Sea region under pretentious pretexts, which is a serious violation of international maritime law. Intensive militarization of the Sea of Azov continues,” said the ministry of Ukrainian foreign.
“Such a destructive policy of the Russian Federation has negative consequences not only for Ukraine and other countries in the Black Sea basin, but also for the region in general,” added the note.
According to the impeachment article, the Trump administration blocked the previous tranche of aid to Ukraine in an attempt to convince Kiev to investigate an energy company linked to the Biden family. Trump’s attempts to put pressure on Ukraine to investigate Hunter Biden and Joe Biden, his potential political rival, were at the heart of the impeachment process.
Sometimes officials of the Trump administration cited corruption in Ukraine as a justification for freezing aid, however that justification was undermined by the Pentagon’s certification at the time when Kiev was making progress in fighting corruption.
The GAO said that the White House budget office has violated the Impoundment Control Act, a 1974 law that restricts the White House to withhold funds that Congress has appropriated.
Almost all US ambassadors who went to Ukraine on Tuesday urged that Ukraine not be used as a club in domestic politics, particularly during an election year.
“We have worked over the years to build and strengthen the US-Ukraine strategic partnership established in 1996,” wrote retired ambassadors Roman Popadiuk, Steven Pifer, Carlos Pascual, John Herbst, Bill Taylor, John Tefft and Marie Yovanovitch.
The statement did not specify the efforts to which they referred.