White House OMB held up Ukraine aid because Russia would be 'angry'
The Office of Management and Budget took a "highly unusual" step of forcing the delay of U.S. military aid to Ukraine in 2017, and it did so because it feared Russia's reaction, a former official told Congress.
By Ty Golay | Feb 11, 2020 | Print-friendly

Hunter Biden wasn't the only reason the Trump administration held up military aid to Ukraine, according to former White House official Catherine Croft. Croft, who was the administration's Ukraine special advisor, told a House committee recently that acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney had put a hold on the aid delivery in 2017 because he was fearful of Russia's reaction.

"In a briefing with Mr. Mulvaney, the question centered around the Russian reaction," said Croft, according to a transcript. She added that there was a fear "that Russia would react negatively to the provision of javelins to Ukraine."

The aid shipment consisted of Javelin anti-tank missiles. The Trump administration initially approved the delivery in late 2017, signing off on the first allocation of lethal aid from the United States to Ukraine since Russian separatists' seizure of territory in eastern Ukraine in 2014.

But then the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), which Mulvaney was head of at the time, ordered a hold on the shipment. The hold lasted "about a week or two," Craft said.

Croft told the House committee that the OMB became involved in discussions surrounding the Javelin shipments to Ukraine early on and that the agency had started sending "working-level officials" to meetings on the subject. All of this "was very unusual," she added: She noted that OMB does not typically get involved in foreign policy matters that are not budget-related.

OMB's objection to the missile shipments on account of Russia's potential reaction was "highly unusual" as well, she said. She noted that it also ran against the advice of "all of the policy agencies," which all urged sending the aid to Ukraine without delay.