September 30, 2019

At the Center of Impeachment Inquiry, Ukraine Security Assistance Under Scrutiny

Security Assistance Monitor, September 19, 2019

Last week, the relationship between the United States and Ukraine came under increased scrutiny following the release of transcripts suggesting that the President may have proposed a quid-pro-quo agreement, trading an investigation into a political rival of President Trump for the release of billions worth of security assistance. Though the revelations have sparked and impeachment inquiry, the ensuing uproar has obscured a wider discussion of the military relationship between Kyiv and the Washington that has grown considerably over the past six years.

Though the U.S. has had an enduring security relationship with Ukraine since the fall of the Soviet Union, military assistance increased dramatically following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and support for separatist forces in the country’s east.  From 2000 to 2013, the U.S. gave Ukraine a yearly average of $65 million in security assistance. Since 2014, that amount has quadrupled in size to an average allotment of $263 million per year, with $427,965,000 appropriated in 2019.  The security assistance package is intended to help Ukraine counter Russian aggression and also reflects a re-orientation of U.S. defense policy towards great power competition, specifically with China and Russia. 

The specific aid package in question is comprised of two different grants from the Pentagon and the State Department. The larger of the two comes from the Department of Defense and amounts to $250 million under the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, first appropriated in 2016 specifically to respond to Russia's intervention. This money is used for equipment, including missiles, grenade launchers, and sniper rifles. The package from the State Department pledged $141 million as part of the Foreign Military Financing Program.

For more information on U.S. security assistance to Kyiv, check out our Security Assistance in Focus Fact Sheet on Ukraine as well as our online database. Our data fact below also gives a snapshot of U.S. military aid to Ukraine since FY 2014.


SAM in the News



The US Defense Industry: Arsenal of Democracy or the Walmarts of War?

CATO, September 25, 2019

In this episode of CATO's podcast, SAM is cited for its work cataloging U.S. military assistance and arms sales (min 35).

On the Edge at the Roof of Eurasia: Counternarcotics' Tajikistan Problem

The Diplomat, September 25, 2019

In this article, SAM's former inter,  Ian Wallace, discusses why the US, Russia, and China are providing Tajikistan with counternarcotics security assistance, and why that aid is contributing to a quasi state-run drug cartel.

Donald Trump said European Nations Have Not Put Money into Ukraine. They Have Put in a Lot

PolitiFact, September 25, 2019

In this article, SAM's data is cited for the total amount of security assistance provided to Ukraine. 

Why Zelenskiy Joined Trump in Trashing Germany

Bloomberg, September 27, 2019

SAM's data is cited for U.S. security assistance provided or appropriated to Ukraine for FY2018 and FY2019. 

Security Assistance News & Research Roundup

News & Blog Posts


US Clears Attack Helicopters for Thailand, Plane Defenses for Qatar

Defense News, September 25, 2019

The US State Department on Tuesday cleared a pair of potential arms sales, one each to Thailand and Qatar. Thailand requested the purchase of eight AH-6i light-attack reconnaissance helicopters, and Qatar requested two large aircraft infrared countermeasure systems and related equipment.

UK Government Admits Further Breaches of Arms Ban to Saudi Coalition  

Middle East Eye, September 26, 2019

Ten days after revealing two breaches of a court order banning the sale of arms licenses to members of the Saudi-led coalition, the minister reports two more and concedes “more cases” may come to light.

China, the World's Second Largest Defense Spender, Becomes a Major Arms Exporter

CNBC, September 26, 2019

Beijing has not only become a major defense spender, but increasingly analysts say China is also turning into a top arms exporter. Second only to the U.S., China’s massive defense spending may be contributing to greater overall spending in the region amid ongoing tensions.

Here's What You Need to Know About the US Aid Package to Ukraine That Trump Delayed 

Defense News, September 26, 2019

At the center of the latest scandal threatening to take down President Donald Trump is $391 million in military aid that Trump reportedly asked his staff to freeze for two months before dropping the hold a week ago, under pressure from lawmakers.

BAE Systems Awarded $2.7 Billion APKWS Guided Rocket Contract 

Defense and Security Monitor, September 26, 2019

BAE Systems was awarded a $2.7 billion contract from the U.S. Navy for Advanced Precision Kill Weapon System II. The contract supports the U.S. Navy, Army and Air Force, as well as forming military sales requirements for the governments of Iraq, Lebanon, Netherlands, Jordan, Afghanistan, UK, Tunisia, Philippines, and Australia.

Senate Passes Ukraine Aid Extension, averts Government Shutdown for Now

Defense News, September 27, 2019

The Senate voted to send President Donald Trump a measure to avoid a government shutdown and extend Ukraine military aid that’s at the center of the House’s presidential impeachment inquiry.

Research, Analysis, and Opinion


Congress is Helping Saudi Arabia Destabilize the Middle East. It Needs to Stop.

Politico, September 24, 2019

This op-ed calls for the suspension of U.S. arms sales and other support to Saudi Arabia,  to help end the horrific conflict in Yemen, along with making it clear that Saudi Arabia must take steps to avoid a broader regional conflagration. 

Arms Sales Can't Replace U.S. Engagement in the Gulf  

Foreign Policy, September 20, 2019

In this op-ed on Foreign Policy, the question is asked on whether U.S. security cooperation and assistance is furthering U.S. goals in the Middle East.  

Trump Has Approved Arms to Lots of Problematic Regimes Besides Ukraine. Here’s The List

Defense One, September 25, 2019

In this piece, Marcus Weisberger discusses how, despite the fact that “Corruption” was the first reason President Trump gave for delaying nearly $400 million in military aid to Ukraine, his administration has approved defense exports with nearly $3 billion to governments considered more corrupt than Kyiv’s.


Data Fact of the Week:

U.S. Security Assistance to Ukraine from FY2013-FY2019

The graphic illustrates U.S. security assistance to Ukraine from FY2013 to FY2019. FY2019 figures are authorized, while FY2013-2018 are actual. 

Security assistance to Kyiv rose dramatically following Russia's annexation of Crimea, propelled primarily by the Department of Defense's Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, intended specifically to assist Ukraine to confront Russian backed separatists. 

For more information check out our full database of U.S. security assistance for Ukraine. 

From the U.S. Government


Defense Department: 

Major Arms Sale: Thailand – AH-6i Helicopters

September 24, 2019

Estimated cost $400 million. 

Major Arms Sale: Qatar – Large Aircraft Infrared Countermeasures (LAIRCM) System for Head-of-State Aircraft

September 24, 2019

Estimated cost $86 million. 

Congressional Notifications: 

S.2547 - To state the policy of the United States with respect to the expansion of cooperation with allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region and Europe regarding the People's Republic of China

September 25, 2019

Referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations

H.Res.599- Expressing support of independence and further development of the strategic partnership between the United States and Uzbekistan

September 26, 2019

Referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs

Government Accountability Office: 

FOREIGN MILITARY SALES:DOD Should Strengthen Oversight of Its Growing Transportation Account Balances

September 25, 2019

This GAO report highlights failures in the DoD Foreign Military Sales process that has allowed transportation fee account balances, which are meant to be covered by recipient governments, to grow by over 1300%

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