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While U.S. aid to Ukraine that President Donald Trump froze has since been released, the nearly $400 million package is likely to remain central to House Democrats’ impeachment inquiry into Trump’s possible abuse of power for political gain.
Since Russia invaded Ukraine in 2014, the United States has supplied Kiev with $1.5 billion in security assistance, plus an average of $320 million a year in non-military aid.
The White House has not been forthcoming about the timeline of the events surrounding the money at issue. But here’s a breakdown of the funding, as well as what we know about how it was withheld and eventually released.
There were two pots of frozen money. One, managed by the Defense Department, totaled $250 million for military aid. A second, managed by the State Department, amounted to $141.5 million for other purposes.
Congress appropriated $250 million to the Pentagon for Ukraine security. The funds were made available in the fiscal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which specifically earmarked $50 million for lethal aid.
In a June news release, the Defense Department said the money would go toward training operations, providing Ukrainian special forces with sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenade launchers, and bolstering the country’s ability to detect acts of electronic warfare.
A Pentagon spokesperson told PolitiFact the Defense Department has sent $214 million to Ukraine, and is working to transfer the remaining $36 million.
The aid package brings the total amount of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine to $1.5 billion since 2014.
The Pentagon would not confirm the funding was frozen, or say when the hold was lifted. The White House, the Office of Management and Budget, and the State Department did not respond to our questions, either.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., the top Democrat on the Senate Appropriations Defense subcommittee, said in a statement that the funds were released on the evening of Sept. 11.
Democrats accused Trump of withholding the aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate his political rival Joe Biden and son Hunter Biden. Trump on Sept. 24 said he had frozen the money to put pressure on European allies and other countries to contribute more money to Ukraine (portraying their contributions in a misleading light).
In addition to the Pentagon funding, another $141.5 million in aid, managed by the State Department, was also frozen.
This pot of Ukraine aid pulled from several sources. About $115 million came from the fiscal 2019 Foreign Military Financing, and the other $26.5 million was drawn from a combination of fiscal 2018 Foreign Military Financing and Overseas Contingency Operation funds, according to Defense News.
Of the $26.5 million, $16.5 million was related to Black Sea maritime security and $10 million was earmarked for efforts to counter Russian influence, Defense News reported.
During a meeting with defense reporters, R. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said the State Department funding was released on Sept. 11 — the same day as the Pentagon aid.
Defense News, "US State Department clears Ukraine security assistance funding. Is the Pentagon next?" Sept. 12, 2019
Congressional Research Service, "Ukraine: Background, Conflict with Russia, and U.S. Policy," Sept. 19, 2019
Congressional Quarterly, "Trump releases hold on Ukraine aid; Democrats unsatisfied," Sept. 13, 2019
Statement by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Sept. 12, 2019