WASHINGTON: A key Congressional committee has passed a legislation, which deducts a small amount from its aid to Pakistan and gives it to Ukraine.
The $10 million deducted from the $1.5 billion Kerry-Lugar-Berman annual fund, however, reflects a shift in US efforts to reach out to people of tribal areas. The money deducted from the Pakistan-specific bill would be used to expand the Ukrainian, Balkan, Russian, and Tatar language services of Radio Free Europe, Radio Liberty and Voice of America at the expense of the programmes currently broadcast in the Pashto language.
The legislation — HR 4278, the Ukraine Support Act — was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan support by the powerful House Foreign Affairs Committee. The legislation, introduced last week by the committee Chairman
Ed Royce and Ranking Member Eliot Engel, promotes Ukraine’s sovereignty and democratic institutions while sanctioning those who have sought to undermine Ukraine’s independence and stability.
The issue of moving funds from the Kerry-Lugar-Berman Bill — which is officially known as the Enhanced Partnership with Pakistan Act of 2009 — was raised during the mark up of the bill by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“My reading of the bill (HR 4278) is that we’re actually taking money from the Pakistani aid budget and putting it into the Ukraine aid budget instead,” Congressman Alan Grayson said.
“In terms of that portion of the budget, I think it’s broadcasting in Pakistan that we’re taking the funds and applying it here,” Congressman Ed Royce said.
The Ukrainian aide bill authorises transfer of funds from Pashto to the Ukrainian, Balkan, Russian, and Tatar language services for the purpose of ‘bolstering existing United States programming to the people of Ukraine and neighbouring regions, and increasing programming capacity and jamming circumvention technology to overcome any disruptions to service.”
The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for further action.
“Russia’s armed intervention in Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea have created an international crisis. The danger is far from over. If we wish to deter Putin from further aggression, the US and our allies must take immediate action to strengthen Ukraine’s sovereignty and independence and target Russian officials and others who are responsible for those actions,” Mr Royce said.