Portman Announces Ukraine Security Assistance Amendment Signed Into Law as Part of NDAA

December 12, 2017 | Press Releases

Builds on Past Two Years of Efforts to Help Ukraine Ward off Russian Aggression, Includes Naval Assistance for the First Time

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S Senator Rob Portman (R-OH), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and founder and co-chair of the Senate Ukraine Caucus, today announced that his amendment boosting security assistance for Ukraine has been signed into law as part of the FY 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) Conference Report. As amended by Portman’s provisions, which he introduced with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), the FY 2018 NDAA authorizes $350 million in security assistance, including lethal and non-lethal equipment, training, and technical assistance. For the first time, the amendment authorizes assistance to bolster Ukraine’s naval capabilities, which were severely degraded following Russia’s seizure of Crimea. The amendment also conditions U.S. aid on progress towards key reforms including instituting civilian control of the military, cooperation and coordination with Ukrainian parliamentary efforts to exercise oversight of the Ministry of Defense and military forces, and improvements in sustainment capabilities, inventory management, and security of sensitive foreign technologies. This year’s Ukraine security assistance package maintains the framework that Portman’s previous amendments to the FY 2016 and FY 2017 NDAAs helped build.

“There is longstanding bipartisan agreement on the policy tools that the United States should utilize as part of its comprehensive strategy to support Ukraine, deter future aggression against our allies and interests, and uphold the fundamental principles of the U.S.-led international system that Russia’s actions ultimately threaten. Now, the United States Senate is taking a critical step forward in its support for Ukraine,” said Senator Portman.  “As Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine persists, and as it continues to utilize hybrid warfare techniques such as propaganda and disinformation, it is critical that the U.S. and NATO provide the sustained economic, political, and military support necessary to allow Ukraine to secure its democratic future. An independent Ukraine is critical not just to Eastern Europe, but it also impacts broader U.S. interests in the region and beyond. I am pleased the president signed this measure into law. I now urge the administration to quickly get Ukraine the assistance they need.”

NOTE: Specifically, this legislation builds on Portman’s successful efforts over the past two years to ensure Ukraine has the tools it needs to defend itself from Russian aggression by:

  • Making the authorization a two-year authorization so that Department of Defense and Department of State have ample time to obligate and spend the money authorized to them;
  • Providing greater detail on the aid conditionality and methodology for certifying Ukrainian progress toward much-needed defense institutional reforms. Key improvement goals now include sustainment, inventory management, and progress in improving the security of proprietary or sensitive foreign defense technology. DoD is also required to develop a clear methodology for certifying Ukraine’s progress;
  • Adding air and coastal defense radars, naval mine and counter-mine capabilities, and littoral and coastal defense craft to the list of authorized U.S. assistance. These additions reflect the Ukrainian military’s most pressing needs that have not been covered under previous authorizations such as anti-tank weapons, secure communications, and counter-artillery radar.
  • Making it easier for U.S. assistance to cover medical and non-medical costs associated with caring for wounded Ukrainian servicemembers and facilitates greater medical training and support for the Ukrainians.

Portman, who received the Ukrainian-American community’s highest honor – the Shevchenko Freedom Award, has long led the effort to provide Ukraine the kind of assistance necessary to ward off Russian aggression and maintain its territorial integrity. In addition to his work helping to build the framework for security assistance to Ukraine, Senator Portman also secured a big win in the United States counter-propaganda effort. This will help the U.S. and its allies such as Ukraine better counter and combat the extensive propaganda and disinformation operations directed against us from countries like Russia, as Portman discussed in a recent speech at the Atlantic Council.