Portman Announces Senate NDAA Authorizes $300 Million in Security Assistance for Ukraine

June 24, 2019

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus and a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praised the inclusion of $300 million in security assistance in the FY 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to fund additional training, equipment, and advisory efforts for Ukraine’s forces. Portman has led efforts in the Senate to ensure these Ukraine security assistance funds were authorized and obligated pending critical defense reforms at the Ukrainian parliament. This aid was contingent upon reforms including strengthening civilian control of the military and enhancing cooperation and coordination with Ukrainian parliamentary efforts to exercise oversight of the Ministry of Defense and military forces. Last month, Portman visited Ukraine to meet with newly-elected Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces Ruslan Khomchak, Minister of Finance Oksana Markarova, and other Ukrainian leaders.  During his visit, Portman congratulated the new government on its peaceful, free, and fair elections, pledged continued support from the U.S. Senate, and encouraged them to continue the anti-corruption efforts and structural reforms of the economy and the military. The Senate is expected to pass the NDAA later this week. 

“This security assistance package is good news, and it sends a clear message that America stands with the Ukrainian people in their struggle to secure a democratic, prosperous, and independent future in the face of Russian aggression,” said Portman.  “When I was in Ukraine last month, I met the new Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, General Khomchak.  The Ukrainian military has fought bravely against Russian aggression in the Donbas and has made tremendous strides.  I assured him that my colleagues in the Senate would make sure the Ukrainian military has the capabilities it needs to defend its sovereign territory—on the land, sea, and air. This authorization demonstrates that commitment. As co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, I look forward to the passage of this bipartisan legislation to help the Ukrainians defend themselves against Russian aggression.”  

NOTE:  Senator Portman, who received the Order of Merit from former President Petro Poroshenko during his visit to Ukraine in 2018 and received the Ukrainian-American community’s highest honor in 2016, the Shevchenko Freedom Award, has long led the effort in the Senate to provide Ukraine the kind of assistance necessary to ward off Russian aggression and maintain its territorial integrity. The co-founder and co-chairman of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, Portman has visited Ukraine several times, including just last month and in April 2018 to see firsthand evidence of Russian aggression on the line of contact and leading a congressional election observation mission with Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) during Ukraine’s Presidential election in 2014.

For the past three years, Portman has successfully introduced amendments to the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that expanded U.S. military aid to Ukraine. These provisions helped build the primary statutory framework for U.S. security assistance to Ukraine, the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative. In addition, he has repeatedly written letters, delivered multiple floor speeches, and pressed senior administration officials on the importance of providing meaningful assistance to help Ukraine stand up to Russia’s military aggression, and has praised its recent decisions to provide lethal assistance to the country.

Portman joined the international community in condemning the sham “elections” that were held in Russian-controlled Eastern Ukraine last November. Later that month, when ships belonging to the Russian security services attacked three Ukrainian Navy vessels near the Kerch Strait, Portman led 11 of his Senate Ukraine Caucus colleagues in condemning this unprovoked aggression.

For his efforts to support Ukraine, Portman was recognized with the Order Of St. Volodymyr Medal from Ukrainian Patriarch Filaret. Portman also championed the bipartisan resolution marking the 85th anniversary of the Holodomor, passed by the Senate in October 2018.