Portman Announces Senate FY 2021 NDAA Includes Key Improvements to Americans’ Commitment to Ukraine Assistance

In Addition to Ukrainian Security Assistance Package, Bill Includes Portman Proposal Requiring DoD and DoS to Develop New, Multi-Year Strategy to Support the Development of Ukraine’s Military Forces

June 24, 2020 | Press Releases

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, announced that the Senate FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) includes $250 million in security assistance for Ukraine to fund additional training, lethal and non-lethal equipment, and advisory efforts for Ukraine’s forces.  Specifically, $125 million is designated specifically for lethal assistance, an increase of $75 million from FY20. In addition, the bill includes a Portman proposal to require DoD to develop a new, multi-year strategy to support the development of Ukraine’s military forces, increasing its capability and capacity and providing a resource plan for US security assistance. This report will better synchronize and prioritize future US security assistance to Ukraine by identifying gaps and shortfalls that need to be addressed. Furthermore, Senator Portman looks forward to filing an amendment to congratulate Ukraine on its ascension into NATO’s Enhanced Opportunity Partner program, a crucial step toward Ukraine achieving full NATO membership. Finally, this bill extends Portman’s provisions, included in previous NDAAs, which condition large portions of U.S. security assistance on critical defense sector reforms in Ukraine, including strengthening civilian control of the military and improving sustainment capabilities, inventory management, and security of sensitive foreign technologies.

“This bill 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. “The Ukrainian military has fought bravely against Russian aggression in the Donbas and has made tremendous strides. I have long advocated for  the development of a comprehensive, multiyear security assistance plan and I am glad to see that the NDAA directs DoD and DoS to look for ways to help the Ukrainian military continue their upward trajectory in proficiency. I have encouraged the Ukrainian government to sustain their efforts on eliminating corruption, and have authored past legislation tying assistance to continued anti-corruption reform. Those conditions remain in place and I look forward to seeing President Zelensky’s government continue move forward on an anti-corruption agenda. I was also pleased to see the NDAA recognized Ukraine’s commitment to NATO and their inclusion in the Enhanced Opportunities Partner Program. The United States Congress will continue to make sure the Ukrainian military has the capabilities it needs to defend its sovereign territory—on the land, sea, and air. As co-founder and co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, I will continue to lead efforts in the Senate to ensure the Ukrainians have the equipment, resources and capabilities they need to defend themselves against Russian aggression.”  

NOTE: In May 2019, after a historic free and open election, Senator Portman met with President Zelensky and other senior Ukrainian officials to further the strategic US/Ukrainian partnership.  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 in May 2019 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 four years, Portman has successfully championed language in 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 decisions to provide lethal assistance to the country.

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.