Matt Gaetz misleads Obama’s record on military aid to Ukraine


U.S. Representative Matt Gaetz, R-Fla., Has become one of President Donald Trump’s main attack dogs as he pushes back the Democrats’ impeachment inquiry through protests, regular appearances on Fox News and on Twitter.

As part of his defense of Trump, the North Florida congressman for the second term has singled out former President Barack Obama’s Ukraine-related actions.

“Barack Obama put a definitive end to this military aid to Ukraine – he never authorized it,” Gaetz said tweeted 21st of October. “Are you telling me the Democrats are trying to impeach President Trump for providing aid that Obama did not provide? That’s ridiculous.” Gaetz made similar remarks in a Fox News interview with Jeanine Pirro.

In either case, Gaetz oversimplified the facts and did not tell the whole story.

The Obama administration refused to supply lethal weapons in 2014. The move came as Russian forces invaded eastern Crimea in 2014 after Ukraine overthrew its pro-Russian president. But the United States under Obama provided considerable military and security assistance, but no lethal weapons.

In addition, Gaetz has twisted the purpose of the impeachment inquiry, which is to determine whether Trump has temporarily suspended aid to pressure Ukraine to investigate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden.

Obama’s record on military aid

When Gaetz said “this help,” his spokesperson said, Gaetz was not talking about any military aid. He was referring to specific lethal military assistance which has been reported in news articles in recent weeks.

Gaetz’s office cited a recent column by conservative writer Marc Thiessen in the New York Post. The column mentions a reporting line in a 2014 Wall Street Journal article about Obama rejecting “weapons or deadly military aid to Ukraine.”

At the time, Obama officials were debating whether to send deadly military hardware amid the conflict with Russia, especially Javelin anti-tank missiles. Obama rejected a request for lethal aid from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko in 2014, although the White House approved a $ 53 million aid package that included vehicles, patrol boats, bulletproof vests and goggles. night vision, as well as humanitarian aid.

US officials feared that the supply of the Javelins to Ukraine would worsen their conflict with Russia. Major allies, including Germany, were unwilling to send weapons to the conflict zone, said Michael Kofman, Russia expert and senior researcher at the CNA Corporation.

Between 2014 and 2016, the United States committed more than $ 600 million in security assistance to Ukraine.

Under Obama, the federal government launched the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which sent other types of US military equipment to the country. From 2016 to 2019, Congress allocated $ 850 million.

In the last year of the Obama administration, Congress authorized lethal aid, but that didn’t include the Javelins.

The National Defense Authorization Act of 2016, which became law in November 2015, called for “lethal assistance such as anti-armor weapon systems, mortars, weapons and ammunition for personal use. , grenade launchers and ammunition, as well as small arms and ammunition ”.

The legislation also provided for counter-artillery radars, unmanned aerial tactical surveillance systems and other equipment.

But experts told us that the equipment eventually provided during Obama’s tenure was non-lethal aid.

“The first lethal deliveries came from Trump,” said Jim Townsend, assistant under secretary of defense for European and NATO policy under the Obama administration.

Trump, during his September 30 meeting with President Volodymyr Zelensky in New York City, subsequently downplayed the money Obama gave by calling it “pillows and sheets.” (Former President Poroshenko used similar language in 2014, telling Congress: “Blankets and night vision goggles are important, but you can’t win a war with a blanket.”)

“It’s not like the White House is making these lists of political science majors sitting behind desks,” Townsend said. “They were recommended by the European command and others who went to see what they needed.”

In July 2016, the White House announced a $ 335 million security assistance program for Ukraine that included “counter-artillery and counter-mortar radars, secure communications, training aids. , logistics infrastructure and IT systems, tactical drones and medical equipment ”.

In 2017, the Trump administration announced that it would sell deadly aid to Ukraine, and in 2018, it approved a plan to sell Ukraine $ 47 million worth of deadly Javelin missiles. Even though the Trump administration has authorized the guns, they are far from the front lines.

Congress approved an additional $ 250 million in military aid in 2018, which Trump temporarily withheld, as well as $ 141 million in State Department aid in July.

RELATED: US Aid To Ukraine Donald Trump Frozen, In One Graphic

A Pentagon spokesperson confirmed that the United States has provided $ 1.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014.

To set the record straight, Democrats did not launch an impeachment inquiry because Trump provided lethal aid.

Democrats are investigating whether Trump abused his presidential power by suspending aid while asking his government to examine Biden, his potential 2020 opponent. They have yet to come up with articles of impeachment.

Our decision

Gaetz said: “Barack Obama put a permanent end to this military aid to Ukraine – he never allowed it to go away.

Obama has not stopped military aid to Ukraine for good.

The element of truth in Gaetz’s statement is that the Obama administration did not provide the lethal military aid requested by Ukraine in 2014. However, it did provide other military equipment and training. The United States has provided $ 1.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since 2014, averaging $ 300 million per year.

This statement is mostly false.


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