Biden asks Congress for $33 billion in aid for Ukraine

The package is intended to provide Kyiv with economic, military and humanitarian support over the next five months

President Joe Biden speaks about the war in Ukraine on Thursday.
President Joe Biden speaks about the war in Ukraine on Thursday.Andrew Harnik (AP)

US President Joe Biden asked Congress on Thursday for an additional $33 billion in aid for Ukraine to help the country defend itself against Russian aggression. The aid, which comes on top of the $13.6-billion package that lawmakers approved last month, will provide Ukraine with economic, military and humanitarian support over the next five months.

“We’re not attacking Russia. We’re helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression,” said Biden at a White House address on Thursday. “As long as the assaults and atrocities continue, we’re going to continue to supply military assistance.”

The new aid package includes more than $20 billion for military and security assistance, including $11.4 billion to replace material that has already been sent, $2.6 billion to support the deployment of US equipment in the region and $1.9 billion to strengthen cybersecurity and provide intelligence support. The request also includes $8.5 billion in assistance to keep the Ukrainian economy from collapsing, and $3 billion in humanitarian relief, including medical supplies and support for Ukrainian refugees, and funds to mitigate the impact of the war on the global supply chain.

“The cost of this fight is not cheap. But caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen,” Biden. “We either back the Ukrainian people as they defend their country or we stand by as the Russians continue their atrocities and aggression in Ukraine.”

When asked by a journalist how the United States would respond if Russia escalated its aggression against Ukraine’s allies, the US president replied: “We are prepared for whatever they do.”

US Congress on Thursday also voted for a new measure that targets the “Russian kleptocracy,” a reference to the collaborators and close associates of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The policy – approved by an overwhelming majority of 417 to eight – allows the government to sell the assets of Russia’s oligarchs, such as superyachts, accounts and luxury apartments, and use the proceeds to support the people of Ukraine. The rare cross-party support on the vote is an indication of the consensus among lawmakers that the United States must harden its position in the face of Russian aggression.

Since the Russian invasion began on February 24, a growing number of Russian superyachts have been seized across Europe. One of the most significant operations was carried out by the FBI and Spanish authorities, which confiscated a ship named Tango, in Palma de Mallorca in Spain’s Balearic Islands. The $90-million vessel was reportedly owned by Russian energy tycoon Viktor F. Vekselberg.

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