Trump’s misleading claims about Obama-Biden aid to Ukraine
By Tara Subramaniam, CNN
(CNN) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky virtually addressed members of Congress on Wednesday to pressure the United States for more aid as his country tries to counter Russia’s invasion. Then President Joe Biden detailed the latest aid program, which includes both defensive equipment and lethal weapons.
The last time Russia invaded Ukraine, then-President Petro Poroshenko also addressed a joint session of Congress and noted in 2014 that “you can’t win the war with blankets,” as part of an emotional plea for help in arming his troops. In response, the Obama administration announcement $46 million in security aid to Ukraine, which included body armor and night vision goggles, but no lethal aid.
Over the weekend, former President Donald Trump critical Obama-Biden’s Ukraine aid efforts saying, “They sent blankets. I sent javelins.”
The facts first:Trump’s complicated history with Ukraine aid aside, it’s a misleading simplification for him to suggest that his predecessor provided no military aid to Ukraine. While the Trump administration was the first to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, the Obama administration has provided military and defense equipment. In March 2015, the United States promised $75 million worth of equipment, including drones, anti-mortar radars, night vision devices, medical supplies and 230 Humvee armored vehicles, according to the Pentagon Security and Defense Cooperation Agency.
As Biden ponders how much more help to provide to Ukraine in his latest fight against Russia, here’s a look at some of the assistance the United States has previously provided to Ukraine.
Since Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014, the United States has committed more than $3 billion in security assistance to Ukraine. These aid packages included military equipment to “strengthen Ukraine’s defensive capabilities”, according to a March 14 statement. report of the Congressional Research Service.
Through the Presidential Drawdown Authority and the Department of Defense’s Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, the United States has provided sniper rifles, grenade launchers, javelins and small arms in addition to essential non-lethal equipment. The Biden administration notably sent Stinger anti-aircraft weapons as part of the first PDA package of 2022 and pledged to redirect Mi-17 helicopters originally destined for Afghanistan through the Excess Defense Articles program.
Over the past year, the United States has provided more than $1 billion in comprehensive security assistance to Ukraine, according to to a February 26 statement from Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
In 2021, Blinken authorized $260 million in military assistance to Ukraine and after the invasion began, he authorized an additional $350 million for “immediate support” to Ukraine.
Biden administration officials have noted they continue to send security aid to Ukraine, even as the Russian invasion continues. Just last week, Congress approved a $13.6 billion emergency aid package for Ukraine and lawmakers have indicated bipartisan support for more help.
Wednesday, Biden announcement $800 million in new security assistance to Ukraine, from emergency aid approved by Congress last week. According to the White House, the $800 million will provide Ukraine with 800 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, 100 drones, “more than 20 million rounds of small arms and grenade launchers and mortars”, 25,000 sets of body armor – bullets, 25,000 helmets, 100 grenade launchers, 5,000 rifles, 1,000 pistols, 400 machine guns and 400 shotguns, in addition to “2,000 javelins, 1,000 light anti-armour weapons and 6,000 AT-4 anti-armour systems” .
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