According to an article by Ria Novsti the Russian Foreign Ministry claims that the recently announced US Financial Aid to the new Kiev Government is illegal because the 1961 Foreign Assistance Act prohibits financial assistance to the government of any state whose legally elected president was overthrown as a result of a military coup or an unlawful decision.

And the recent change of government in the Ukraine seems to be unlawful.

Is that true? And if it is, who can take which legal actions?

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    Its unlawful to give aid to Egypt and Libya too for the same reason yet we funnel money to them as well. Mar 13, 2014 at 19:48
  • @Chad Oh yes, the US started aid to several Middle East and North African countries after the start of the War on Terror. There's two parts to this. The US uses a stick and carrot, so improvements in a regime may allow it to qualify (Libya); but many think the US has been attempting to overthrow these dictatorships and install democracies-US "trains their military officers." It could be coincidental, I think its partly both. Egypt was about if it is was a popular revolt or military, though-the military was helping the people-they got rid Muslim Brotherhood too, so I think that's fine.
    – Razie Mah
    Mar 14, 2014 at 21:39
  • @RazieMah - The US uses money and military power to manipulate countries it thinks of as lesser and not a real threat. Then is surprised when it blows up in its face... then doubles down for more. I have what Rev. Wright said because he was happy about it, but he was absolutely right on the facts. Mar 14, 2014 at 21:45
  • @Chad Gaddafi ousted King Idris, so he's NOT really relevant to this discussion either. I can't think of a ME gov't that does meet this criteria. But Ria Novsti is Russian propaganda. Russia is paranoid the US is targeting its allies to overthrow them and thus attacking Russia. The War on Terror isn't about Russia.
    – Razie Mah
    Mar 14, 2014 at 21:47
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    @RazieMah - I think that Russia sees that Obama is weak and not in a position to put up any real resistance. The Russians are just capitalizing on that to reclaim some of what was lost at the end of the cold war. Neither side actually has the money for a war, but Putin has a better poker face. Mar 14, 2014 at 21:58

1 Answer 1


It's not illegal because the US isn't interpreting this as a military coup. As far as I can tell an "unlawful decision" is not a part of the law and it seems awfully vague-while international organizations may do this, the US probably avoids ruling on the laws of other nations.

To be a military coup, the military would need to be running the Ukraine, which it is not, so cannot fulfill this definition.

A coup of any kind is always suspect. The intent of the law is to prevent misuse of funds specifically if they will go towards human rights abuses and line the pockets of dictators.

coup d'état (/ˌkuːdeɪˈtɑː/; French: blow of state; plural: coups d'état), also known as a coup, a putsch, or an overthrow, is the sudden deposition of a government,1[2][3][4] usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to depose the extant government and replace it with another body, civil or military.

The Ukrainian revolution here was not sudden, was not by a small group, or by an existing part of the state establishment. It is not a coup is any sense. It is a popular uprising.

The new Ukrainian government is working with Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe to work out peaceful and constructive solutions to the crisis and ensure the human rights of the people of the Ukraine. It doesn't seem to be a huge concern that the economic support sent to them will be used for torture, disappearing opposition, illegal detention, or other such severe human rights abuses that the US attempts to avoid helping support when coups occur.

Russia is arguing that they are a small group of dangerous Neo Nazis that want to kill Russians and Jews, of course, that have no connection with the Orange Revolution, but due to the fact that the Kiev government is cooperating with international monitors, I feel confident the people of Ukraine are safe from ethnic genocide

Congress will review the legality of the transfer of the funds and may choose to stop them at any time. Decisions are reversed due to human rights abuses. I'm not sure about legal actions a citizen should take if they disagreed with the economic help, but you could write the members of House Foreign Affairs Committee.

While the US routinely funds human rights abusers, although the law allows it if there are greater benefits than risks, which is sometimes interpreted as an open license, I can find only one example of the US ever breaking this part of the law, and it is currently under consideration of cutting off aid to them (Porfirio Lobo in Honduras). In other words, there seems to be pretty good consistency in following this portion of the law.

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    Let mes guess: Aid for the Sandinista government of Nicaragua was illegal but aid for Pinochet was legal? Mar 12, 2014 at 20:25
  • @MartinSchröder The US cut off aid to the Sandinistas in 1977 due to torture and murder and then also to Guatamala and El Salvador. You mean the anti-Sandinistas (Contras). Reagan ran guns to them in the 1980s. That was a covert proxy war with the Soviet War, which is pretty different. And they weren't elected! They seized power.
    – Razie Mah
    Mar 12, 2014 at 20:47
  • No, I mean the Sandinista (FSLN) - but that wasn't a military coup. The coup in Burma in 1990 was. Now how was that different from Chile in 1973? Mar 12, 2014 at 21:53
  • @MartinSchröder The US actually caused the coup in Chile or helped it along anyway. It was part of the cold war. The US was trying to get people to overthrow the Soviet Union itself too. A military junta wasn't preferable but the CIA was taking what it could get. I don't think the law applies to actual wars. See how I explained its intent.
    – Razie Mah
    Mar 12, 2014 at 22:01
  • @MartinSchröder I'm really searching but I can't find any evidence that the US is providing any aid to Burma. The Obama administration lowered sanctions on them and normalized diplomatic relations in 2011 with very heavy terms that no US money goes to the military. Providing aid is under discussion. Like my post says, they can provide aid if it is helpful to the people of that country. The US is supporting democratic reforms in the country and the coup in Burma was 24 years ago.
    – Razie Mah
    Mar 12, 2014 at 23:24

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