Bipartisan senators urge Trump administration to release Ukraine aid

Bipartisan senators urge Trump administration to release Ukraine aid
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A bipartisan group of senators asked the Trump administration to release $250 million in authorized military security assistance for Ukraine.

Sens. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanMcConnell locks down key GOP votes in Supreme Court fight Romney undecided on authorizing subpoenas for GOP Obama-era probes Congress needs to prioritize government digital service delivery MORE (R-Ohio), Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenate Democrats introduce bill to sanction Russians over Taliban bounties Trump-backed candidate wins NH GOP Senate primary to take on Shaheen Democratic senator urges Trump to respond to Russian aggression MORE (D-N.H.), Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinTumultuous court battle upends fight for Senate McConnell focuses on confirming judicial nominees with COVID-19 talks stalled Senate Republicans signal openness to working with Biden MORE (D-Ill.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) and Ron JohnsonRonald (Ron) Harold Johnson CIA found Putin 'probably directing' campaign against Biden: report This week: Supreme Court fight over Ginsburg's seat upends Congress's agenda GOP set to release controversial Biden report MORE (R-Wis.) wrote a letter Tuesday to Office of Management and Budget Director Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyMick Mulvaney to start hedge fund Fauci says positive White House task force reports don't always match what he hears on the ground Bottom line MORE after Politico reported that the administration was delaying the aid. 

They wrote that the funds have helped Ukraine develop its own military capabilities and maintain its sovereignty as it faces Russian attacks. 

"In fact, Ukraine continues to fight daily on its eastern border against Russia-backed separatists in the provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, and over 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers and civilians have lost their lives in this war," they wrote. "U.S.-funded security assistance has already helped turn the tide in this conflict, and it is necessary to ensure the protection of the sovereign territory of this young country, going forward."

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"This funding is crucial to the long term stability of Ukraine and has the continued backing and approval of the U.S. Congress which appropriated these funds. We strongly urge you to direct the Department of Defense to obligate these funds immediately," the senators added. 

A Defense Department spokesperson told The Hill that the U.S. was working with Ukraine's government and the Multinational Joint Commission to evaluate the specific needs of Ukraine's armed forces.

The spokesperson added that the department does not publicly comment on internal budget deliberations.

“The President has made no secret when it comes to foreign assistance that U.S. interests abroad should be prioritized,” a senior administration official told The Hill in a statement Wednesday. 

The Hill has reached out to the Office of Management and Budget for comment. 

President TrumpDonald John TrumpOmar fires back at Trump over rally remarks: 'This is my country' Pelosi: Trump hurrying to fill SCOTUS seat so he can repeal ObamaCare Trump mocks Biden appearance, mask use ahead of first debate MORE asked officials to review the funding to make sure that it is being used to further U.S. interests, Politico reported last week, citing a senior administration official. Those asked to review the funding reportedly include Defense Secretary Mark EsperMark EsperOvernight Defense: Pentagon redirects pandemic funding to defense contractors | US planning for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May | Anti-Trump GOP group puts ads in military papers Official: Pentagon has started 'prudent planning' for full Afghanistan withdrawal by May US issues Iran sanctions to enforce UN action ignored by international community MORE and national security adviser John BoltonJohn BoltonHillicon Valley: FBI, DHS warn that foreign hackers will likely spread disinformation around election results | Social media platforms put muscle into National Voter Registration Day | Trump to meet with Republican state officials on tech liability shield Government watchdog recommends creation of White House cyber director position Diplomacy with China is good for America MORE.

President Trump has recently faced scrutiny over statements about Russia. He said last month that he would he would "certainly" invite Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinEx-Trump national security adviser says US leaders 'making it easy for Putin' to meddle The Hill's Campaign Report: GOP set to ask SCOTUS to limit mail-in voting Putin calls on UN to strengthen World Health Organization MORE to the next Group of Seven summit. Russia was expelled from what was then the Group of Eight because of its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine in 2014.