Trump administration reviewing Ukraine security funding

By Kathryn Watson

/ CBS News

The Trump administration is reviewing Ukraine security aid, part of the president's broader America-first approach to foreign policy and national security.

President Trump has been consulting with his national security leadership team to decide the best use of Ukraine security aid to achieve and align with U.S. national security interests, according to a senior administration official. Congress has already approved roughly $250 million in such aid — aid meant largely to confront Russia — for the current fiscal year 2019, which ends September 30. It's that funding that could be in jeopardy.

"The president has made no secret when it comes to foreign assistance that U.S. interests abroad should be prioritized and other foreign countries should also be paying their fair share," the senior administration official said.

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Mr. Trump met with Defense Secretary Mark Esper and National Security Adviser John Bolton on Ukraine military assistance and other foreign aid recently, according to the senior administration official.

But the evaluation of Ukraine security aid comes as the president continues to face backlash over his friendly attitude toward Russian President Vladimir Putin. On foreign soil in France, the president again blamed his predecessor, President Obama for allowing Russia to annex Crimea, and suggested Russia should be brought back into the G-7 group of countries with the largest advanced economies. Mr. Trump suggested he might invite Putin to next year's G-7 summit in the U.S., which Mr. Trump wants to host at his Miami golf club.

The possibility that the funding could be blocked rattles some members of Congress.

"Enough is enough," said Sen. Bob Menendez, the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, in a statement. "President Trump should stop worrying about disappointing Vladimir Putin and stand up for U.S. national security priorities. We have a responsibility to help Ukraine defend its sovereignty and deter Russia from further aggression."

"The administration should stop playing games and immediately release these funds approved by Congress, which are supported by the State Department and Pentagon," Menendez continued. "Any further effort by President Trump to weaken U.S. efforts to hold Russia accountable for undermining the peace, security, stability, sovereignty or territorial integrity of Ukraine, will be met with fierce opposition in Congress."

The senior administration official said all Ukraine security assistance funds are available for obligation through the end of the current fiscal year, which concludes at the end of September. The official said the Office off Management and Budget hasn't taken any action that would jeopardize funds obligated before then.

First published on August 30, 2019 / 1:11 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Kathryn Watson

Kathryn Watson is a politics reporter for CBS News Digital.

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