President Trump has insisted that the controversial delay in the disbursement of military aid to Ukraine earlier this year was driven by his deep concerns about corruption in the Eastern European nation. But his most recent budget requests suggest that anti-corruption has not been a major focus for his administration, says Erica Werner of The Washington Post.
“[T]he administration sought to cut a program called International Narcotics Control and Law Enforcement. Among the goals of the program, as described in White House budget documents, is ‘helping U.S. partners address threats to U.S. interests by building resilience and promoting reform in the justice and law enforcement sectors through support to new institutions and specialized offices, such as Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau and Special Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office.’
“The program directs specific sums of money to individual countries. In 2019, $30 million was directed to Ukraine, after Congress rejected an administration request to cut the sum to $13 million. In its 2020 budget request, released in March, the administration again sought to cut the program’s spending on Ukraine to $13 million. Congress seems likely to once again reject the proposed cut, although lawmakers have yet to agree on any spending bills for the 2020 budget year that began Oct. 1.”
In other words, the Trump White House sought to reduce funding to fight corruption in Ukraine by more than half in 2019, and then tried to do so again in 2020. And that’s just one example, Werner says. In another, the administration wanted to cut spending in the Economic Support and Development Fund dedicated to fighting corruption in Ukraine from $250 million to $145 million.