White House press secretary Jen Psaki slammed as “nonsense” a report Friday that the Biden administration had held up a military aid package meant for Ukraine and worth up to $100 million.
Politico, citing “four people familiar with internal deliberations,” reported earlier in the day that officials on the National Security Council put delivery of the aid — which included lethal munitions like anti-tank weapons and small arms — on hold after the Kremlin announced the withdrawal of some Russian troops from positions along the Ukraine border in late April.
“The idea that we have held back security assistance to Ukraine is nonsense,” Psaki said in a statement. “Just last week — in the run-up to the US-Russia Summit — we provided a $150 million package of security assistance, including lethal assistance. We have now provided the entire amount appropriated by Congress through the Ukraine security assistance initiative.”
Psaki also noted Biden’s statement on June 14 that the US “will do all that we can to put Ukraine in the position to be able to continue to resist Russian physical aggression.”
“We have also prepared contingency funds in the event of a further Russian incursion into Ukraine,” Psaki concluded. “As President Biden told [Russian] President [Vladimir] Putin directly, we will stand unwavering in support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”
The report alarmed Republicans like Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) who tweeted: “Remember when freezing military aid to Ukraine was an impeachable offense?”, a reference to the claim by Democrats that the Trump administration conditioned the release of $400 million worth of military aid on the Kiev government opening an investigation into Joe Biden, his son Hunter, and their business dealings in Ukraine.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik (R-NY) accused Biden on Twitter of “shamefully turning his back on our Ukrainian allies.”
Friday marked the second time this week that the White House has denied reports of major foreign policy action involving Ukraine. On Monday, the president denied Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky’s claim that NATO leaders had “confirmed” the Eastern European nation would be allowed to join the trans-Atlantic alliance. Russia has long said it considers such a move to be a red line.
“It depends on whether they meet the criteria,” Biden said. “The fact is, they still have to clean up corruption. The fact is they have to meet other criteria to get into the action plan. And so it’s, you know, school’s out on that question. It remains to be seen.”
Last month, the White House went so far as to cross out part of a transcript of remarks by deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre that had expressed support for Ukraine joining NATO. The White House said at the time that Jean-Pierre had “misspoke” and her words did not reflect official policy.