Trump says he held up Ukraine aid over concerns about corruption

U.S. President DonaldTrump on Wednesday linked his decision to delay U.S. military aid to Ukraine to concerns about high levels of corruption in that country, and especially to frustration that the Europeans weren’t doing more to assist their neighbor, which serves as a bulwark between Europe and Russia, CNS News reports.

Trump says he held up Ukraine aid over concerns about corruption

Trump says he held up Ukraine aid over concerns about corruption

STEPANAKERT, OCTOBER 3,  ARTSAKHPRESSTrump also said he released the funding last month at the urging of Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) – who co-founded and co-chairs the Senate Ukraine Caucus – and others who stressed the importance of helping out Ukraine.

His comments at the White House, spoken alongside Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, implicitly challenged the narrative driving the Democrats’ impeachment push – that Trump delayed the appropriated military aid in order to pressurize the new leadership in Kyiv to cooperate in a probe aimed at discrediting 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden.

Trump told reporters Wednesday that he had been troubled about giving aid to Ukraine “from day one.”
“I say, ‘How come it’s always the United States that gets ripped?’”
He said that he wants to help Ukraine and that he likes President Volodymyr Zelensky.
Trump said he initially delayed the aid because Ukraine had been “rated one of the most corrupt countries in the world,” while his second concern was that Europe was not doing enough to support it militarily.

When Portman called him to urge him to release the funding, Trump said, he told him that he hated the U.S. being the one to give Ukraine money while Europe does not do enough.

“I gave the money because Rob Portman and others called me and asked,” he said. “But I don’t like to be the sucker. And European countries are helped [by Ukraine] far more than we are, and those countries should pay more to help Ukraine.”

Trump did not elaborate on how Ukraine helps Europe, although he did describe the country as “a big, wide, beautiful wall” between Europe and Russia.

The White House lifted a hold on $250 million in military aid for Ukraine on September 12, one day after Portman spoke to Trump by phone and urged him to release it.

Portman confirmed last week that, when he spoke to Trump on September 11, the president’s concerns had focused on the need for Europeans to do more.