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Trump’s Hold on Military Aid Blindsided Top Ukrainian Officials

“There was talk, conversations are different, leaders have the right to discuss any problems that exist,” he said. “This conversation was long, friendly, and it touched on a lot of questions, including those requiring serious answers.”

Another official who learned of the hold on aid like a bolt from the blue was Oleh Shevchuk, who was deputy minister of defense in charge of logistics and oversaw the aid shipments until this month. He also said he learned of it through media reports.

Everything had been arriving smoothly, he said. Even as the news of the suspension came out, he said, Ukraine was receiving containers of medical supplies in Odessa, a Black Sea port. The Ukrainian military was expecting 33 Humvees equipped as ambulances, water purifying equipment and so-called containerized housing units, or mobile homes for soldiers. The Ukrainian military still expects these items, he said.

In fact, the hold came and went so quickly he noticed no change in the shipments and American officials never informed him of any planned delays, Mr. Shevchuk said. “We got more this year than last year,” he said.

The United States has provided about $ 1.5 billion worth of military aid to Ukraine since 2014, almost entirely as equipment, often drawn from United States Army surpluses, rather than money transfers to the Ukrainian budget.

It includes items much sought-after on the battle front, like body armor, night-vision goggles and armored ambulances. But the aid has not been decisive in the now five-year-old war. Some aid, including ready-to-eat meals and at least one sophisticated counter-battery radar, has been captured and gleefully put on display by the Russian-backed separatists.

As a major component of the aid, about 300 American soldiers serve as trainers at a military base in western Ukraine, far from the fighting in the east.

Source: NYT > World News

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