Russian Official Praises Trump for Delaying Military Aid to Ukraine, Argues Americans Care About 'Own Wellbeing,' Not 'Hegemonic Ambitions'

A senior Russian official has praised President Donald Trump's decision to delay $250 million in military funding to Ukraine, where government forces are battling a Russian-backed insurgency in the east of the country.

Politico first reported Wednesday that Trump had requested a review of the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative, which funds training, military equipment and weapons for the Ukrainian armed forces. The report cited a senior administration official, who said the president wished to ensure the money is being spent in the U.S.'s best interests.

The official said Trump wanted to ensure that other nations are "paying their fair share," a common theme in the president's criticism of military cooperation with other nations. Last year, he reportedly threatened to withdraw from NATO unless fellow members upped their military expenditure.

Though the Ukraine funding review has caused concern on Capitol Hill, the head of the Russian State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Leonid Slutsky suggested Trump was simply doing due diligence on the U.S. contribution. The politician also took the opportunity to accuse the Ukrainian government of corruption and misappropriating funds.

"If the information provided by Politico is reliable, Trump's order can be related to both internal and external factors," he told state news agency Tass. "I believe the corruption factor in Ukraine plays a substantial role. It is important for the US administration to make sure that the funds are used for their intended purpose and are not just stolen."

Slutsky then claimed that Trump's decision will benefit his base. "The single-storied America, which voted for him in 2016, is more concerned about its own well-being rather than about satisfying hegemonic ambitions," he said.

Slutsky acknowledged the concern in Congress that the U.S. may be scaling back its support of the Ukrainian government, singling out the Democratic party even though support for Ukraine is largely bipartisan. "Democrats will naturally be opposed, especially in light of the upcoming 2020 [election] campaign," he said.

Regardless, the politician said it was too early to say whether Trump's funding slow roll is indicative of a changing stance on Ukraine and Russia's involvement there. "For now I would not talk about radical changes in the United States' policy towards Ukraine. For that, more serious signals are needed," he explained.

Fighting continues in the east of the country—the nation's industrial heartland—with the government in Kyiv pitted against separatists fighters of the Donetsk People's Republic and the Luhansk People's Republic. Fighting erupted in 2014 after protesters forced pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych from office and Russian troops occupied the Crimean peninsula.

Ukraine, DOnald Trump, military funding, Russia
A Ukrainian soldier watch on position on the front line, near Katerynivka village, in Lugansk region on April 18, 2019, as a war with Russian-backed separatists in the east of the country drags on. ANATOLII STEPANOV/AFP/Getty Images/Getty