A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has introduced a bill to help Ukraine’s armed forces. The move comes after a party-line impeachment scandal rocked the Trump administration over a possible quid pro quo with the Eastern European nation.
The legislation would authorize $4 million in spending to train Ukrainian military officers and would require the appointment of a special envoy to the country. It would also require the Defense and State Departments to monitor the state of Ukraine’s armed forces and form concrete plans to provide military assistance.
Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, introduced the legislation along with Ranking Member Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J.
Several other members of the committee such as Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., also backed the bill.
The Senate impeachment trial this year surrounded Trump’s possible withholding of military aid towards Ukraine. Trump was accused of coercing Kiev into an investigation of Hunter Biden’s business dealings with Burisma, a major Ukrainian natural gas producer. The effort was seen as an attempt by Trump to influence the upcoming presidential election, as Hunter Biden’s father, Joe Biden, was seen as a top Democratic contender for the White House in 2020.
Trump was eventually acquitted of the impeachment charges against him, while Biden is the presumptive Democratic nominee.
The U.S. and Ukraine established diplomatic relations in 1991, following the fall of the Soviet Union. According to the Independent Defense Anti-Corruption Committee, a Kiev-based watchdog group, U.S. military assistance comprised 90% of Ukraine’s foreign military aid in 2019. Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 has made Ukraine more concerned about its security, with Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky especially interested in buying more Javelin anti-tank missiles from the U.S.