KYIV, Feb 6 – U.S. President Trump’s administration is delaying an arms transfer to Ukraine worth $30 million, BuzzFeed News reported Thursday.
At least six commercial sales of guns and ammunition have faced delays of at least a year and continue to remain frozen, three current Ukrainian officials and one former senior U.S. official told BuzzFeed News. Now, Ukraine is requesting its money back.
The export license for the “most critical” of the pending sales was submitted in November 2018 for $10 million in ammunition, two Ukrainian officials told the news outlet. The five other sales, which include products like lethal weapons and amount to about $20 million, were prepaid between January and March 2019.
The officials have said the Trump administration has not provided any reasoning about why the commercial orders are being delayed. U.S. sales between companies and foreign buyers need licensing approved by the State Department, which typically takes about two months, according to BuzzFeed News.
“It might be wise for the Ukrainians to look for other sources,” the U.S. official told BuzzFeed News, saying White House and State Department officials have told him the sales are still being “evaluated” even though Ukraine has already made payments on them.
The report comes on the heels of the president’s acquittal in an impeachment trial in the Senate Wednesday. The charges in that case revolved around a controversy involving the withholding of military aid to Ukraine. The impeachment inquiry investigated whether Trump tied his requests for Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden to $391 million in military aid to the country that was held up.
It is unclear whether the sales delays are related to the push for investigations into Biden and his son, as the approvals have been withheld since before the scrutinized July 25 call between Trump and the Ukrainian president.
The officials speculated about a number of theories on why the deal was taking so long, including the delay being related to a military procurement scandal involving Ukraine’s former president or a Chinese attempt to buy a Ukrainian strategic aerospace company.
A spokesperson for the State Department said in a statement to The Hill that the Arms Export Control Act and the International Traffic in Arms regulations forbid the department "from commenting on the status of specific defense trade direct commercial licensing cases."
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv and the White House did not immediately return requests for comment.
The U.S. has provided Ukraine with $1.6 billion in assistance since its war with Russia began in 2014. (bf/ez)