ukraine war: Biden wants $33 billion more to help Ukraine battle Russia

President Joe Biden on Thursday asked Congress for an additional $33 billion to help Ukraine deter Russia’s invasion, a sign that the US is launching a strong, long-term campaign to strengthen Kyiv and undermine Moscow. is ready for as the bloody war enters its third month. With no signs of diminishing.

Biden’s latest proposal – which the White House said was expected to support Ukraine’s five-month needs – is for more than $20 billion in military aid for Kyiv and bolstering security in nearby countries. . Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky has $8.5 billion in economic aid to help keep the government functioning, and $3 billion for food and humanitarian programs around the world.

The aid package, which is headed to Congress for consideration, would more than double the initial $13.6 billion in defense and economic aid for Ukraine and Western allies implemented last month that is now nearly exhausted. This meant that the US was not tired of helping to block Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attempt to expand control of his neighboring country and perhaps beyond.

“The price of this fight is not cheap, but reducing aggression is going to be more expensive. It is important that this funding gets approved and as quickly as possible,” Biden said.

The request comes with fighting, now in its ninth week, intensifying in eastern and southern parts of the country and rising international tensions as Russia cut gas supplies to two of NATO’s allies, Poland and Bulgaria.

Biden promised that the US would work to support the energy needs of its allies, adding, “We will not allow Russia to be intimidated or blackmailed into getting out of sanctions.”

Biden said the new package “starts the transition to long-term security aid” for Ukraine.

There is widespread, bipartisan support in Congress to give Ukraine all the aid it needs to fight the Russians, and its final acceptance of the aid appears certain. But Biden and congressional Democrats also want lawmakers to approve billions more to fight the pandemic, and that some route the proposal along with a Republican push to tangle the measure with the extension of Trump-era immigration restrictions. becomes unclear.

Biden asked lawmakers to include an additional $22.5 billion in vaccines, treatments, tests and aid to help other countries continue to contain COVID-19, adding that “we’re running out of supplies for therapeutics.” ”

But that figure, which Biden also sought last month, seems aspirational. Senate Democrats have already agreed to reduce that figure to $10 billion, in a deal with Republicans, and reviving the higher amount would be an uphill battle at best.

Biden said he had no priority on whether lawmakers would combine virus funding with the Ukraine package or split them. “They can do it separately or together,” Biden said, “but we need them both.”

It suggested Biden expressed a desire to pass Ukraine’s money swiftly, bypassing the complexities of tying it to political tussles over COVID-19 spending and immigration.

Biden was asking Congress on Thursday for new powers to seize and repossess the assets of Russian oligarchs, saying the US was confiscating luxury yachts and the homes of “bad guys”.

He wants lawmakers to make it a criminal offense for a person to “knowingly or knowingly keep proceeds directly from corrupt dealings with the Russian government”, doubling the statute of limitations for foreign money laundering offenses to 10 years. are, and expand the definition of “racketeering under US law to include attempts to avoid sanctions”.

Biden also asked Congress to allow the federal government to use the proceeds from selling confiscated assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs to help the people of Ukraine.

In a virtual address to leaders of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank last week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on Ukraine to use the proceeds of sanctioned assets and central bank reserves to compensate for its losses.

He said the frozen Russian assets “should be used to rebuild Ukraine after the war, as well as pay for the damages caused to other countries.”

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said at the time that authorizing such actions would require Congressional action.

World Bank President David Malpass said last week that the war had already caused more than $60 billion in damage to buildings and infrastructure. And the IMF forecast in its latest world economic outlook that Ukraine’s economy will shrink by 35% this year and next.

In recent weeks, the US and global allies have included dozens of oligarchs and their family members, as well as hundreds of Russian officials believed or believed to support its invasion of Ukraine. The White House says the new tools will toughen the impact of sanctions on Russia’s economy and its ruling class by making it more difficult to evade sanctions.

The large amount Biden is seeking in the supplement is more than half of the entire proposed $60.4 billion budget for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development for the next budget year, although it is only one part of the 2023 Pentagon spending plan. It’s a small part.

According to Brown University’s Cost of War Project, the US has spent about $2.2 trillion on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq since September 11, 2001. It is estimated that interest costs will rise to $6.5 trillion by 2050.

As a comparison, according to the Congressional Research Service, the US spent $23.2 billion—including Department of Defense, State, and Homeland Security money—in the 2001 budget year alone to cover the aftermath of 9/11 and the invasion of Afghanistan. For.

Biden is now requesting, for military purposes, $6 billion to arm Ukraine directly, $5.4 billion to replace US supplies sent to the region, $4.5 billion for Ukraine and other security aid for US allies and There will be $2.6 billion for continuous deployment. According to documents describing the request, of the US military in the region.

Among the proposed spending is $1.2 billion to help Ukraine refugees flee the US with cash aid, English language instruction and help to school districts with Ukrainian students. There is also $500 million for US farmers to produce more wheat, soybeans and other crops, for which Ukraine, a major global food supplier, has faced production cuts.

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