President Joe Biden’s administration denied a Friday report that it ordered a freeze on a shipment of military aid to Ukraine that included lethal weapons ahead of a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The the freeze is reported to have prevented a shipment of roughly $100 million in military aid. Biden’s National Security Council had supposedly ordered officials to put together the aid earlier this year when Russia was amassing troops on its border with Ukraine, Politico reported. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki denied the reports entirely on Friday, calling them “nonsense.” (RELATED: Biden To Hold First Call With Ukrainian President As Russia’s Military Postures)
“The idea that we have held back security assistance to Ukraine is nonsense. Just last week—in the run-up to the U.S.-Russia Summit—we provided a $150 million package of security assistance, including lethal assistance,” Psaki said in the statement. “We have now provided the entire amount appropriated by Congress through the Ukraine security assistance initiative.”
“Two days before the Summit, President Biden stood on the stage before the entire world at NATO and said that we would keep putting 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. As President Biden told President Putin directly, we will stand unwavering in support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” the statement continued.
Biden met with Putin Wednesday in Geneva, Switzerland, and while he confirmed they had discussed Ukraine, he did not announce he had frozen the aid at the time.
Biden invited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to the White House later this summer. While a date has not been announced, the pair will likely discuss the future of military aid packages.
The aid freeze was reported to have come in reaction to an announcement from Russia that it would deescalate its buildup of troops on the Ukrainian border, officials told Politico. Ukraine argues that there are still 100,000 Russian troops deployed near the border, however.
Relations between the U.S. and Ukraine have been frosty in recent years as both recent U.S. administrations faced accusations of questionable dealings with or in the former Soviet nation. Biden had sought to push off talks with Zelensky for as long as possible, according to Politico, but he held his first call with the leader in late spring.
Ukraine has been a sore topic for Biden since his son, Hunter Biden, faced accusations of using his family name to gain business dealings in the country. Biden himself was accused of profiting from his son’s dealings. (RELATED: Here Are All The Times Joe Biden Allegedly Talked With Hunter About His Foreign Business Dealings)
Former President Donald Trump also had a cold relationship with Zelensky after being impeached for his phone call with the Ukrainian president in 2019. The Democratic-held House’s impeachment charges accused Trump of withholding military aid to Ukraine in exchange for political favors, including investigating the Biden family’s dealings.