Administration releases $250 million in Ukraine military aid

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, left, shakes hands with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, in Warsaw, Poland, Sunday, Sept. 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration is releasing $250 million in military aid to Ukraine that had been held up despite criticism that the money was desperately needed to deter Russian aggression and territorial expansion.

That word comes just before a Senate Appropriations panel debate Thursday, with lawmakers from both parties set to rebuke the administration.

They're credited an amendment threatened by Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois for forcing the administration's hand on the money, which Congress already had approved.

Relations between Ukraine and Russia nosedived in 2014 after Moscow annexed Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and threw its weight behind separatist fighters in eastern Ukraine.

Members of the Senate committee announced the administration's move during debate on a $695 billion Pentagon funding bill.

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