Washington D.C.- US President Joe Biden is asking Congress for $33 billion to support Ukraine, a huge sum that he says will help Ukrainians continue to fight Russia’s “brutal” invasion that is taking place. intensifying in the United States. East of the country.
Speaking to White House reporters on Thursday, Biden said assistance to Ukraine is a “small price to pay” for defeating Russia and reducing the chance of future conflict.
“The cost of this fight is not cheap, but giving in to aggression will be more costly if we allow it to happen,” he said. “Either we support the Ukrainian people as they defend their country or we stand by as the Russians continue their atrocities and aggression in Ukraine.”
Biden did not specify the amount of money he is seeking, but earlier Thursday senior administration officials said the White House wants $33 billion in matching funds for Ukraine.
Last month, the United States Congress approved $13.6 billion in assistance to kyiv, but the Biden administration has said it has already used much of the funds. In recent weeks, Washington has announced large military and government aid packages to Ukraine.
Congress has the authority to appropriate money for the executive branch, which distributes foreign aid. So far, US lawmakers have almost unanimously backed aid to Ukraine.
“Basically, we don’t have any money,” Biden said Thursday. “And that is why today, to prop up Ukraine as it continues to fight, I am sending Congress a supplemental budget request. It will maintain the uninterrupted flow of weapons and ammunition to the brave Ukrainian fighters and continue to provide economic and humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people.”
Moscow has repeatedly warned Washington not to continue its military assistance to kyiv, accusing the United States of “pouring oil in the flames” of war.
The the White House announced Earlier Thursday that Biden is also seeking legislation to seize the frozen assets of wealthy Russians and use the seized funds to “remediate the damage of Russian aggression toward Ukraine.”
On Wednesday, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved a non-binding bill calling for the sale of sanctioned Russian luxury assets and the repurposing of the money for Ukraine’s reconstruction.
“We are going to seize their yachts, their luxury homes and other ill-gotten gains… These are bad guys,” Biden said of Russia’s oligarchs. “This legislative package strengthens our law enforcement capabilities to seize property linked to Russia’s kleptocracy.”
The United States and its allies have been piling on sanctions against the Russian economy, as well as against President Vladimir Putin and the elites in his inner circle.
Russia launched their full invasion from Ukraine on February 24 after a months-long standoff in which Moscow amassed troops near the Ukrainian borders as Putin demanded an end to NATO expansion in the former Soviet republics.
But in recent weeks, Moscow has scaled back its war targets, shifting its efforts to the eastern Donbass region after failing to capture the Ukrainian capital.
In turn, the US has said it is tailoring its security assistance to Ukraine to what is needed on the battlefield to the east. sending drones and long-range artillery systems that the Pentagon says are better suited to the region’s flat terrain.
Biden said Thursday that the United States has sent 10 anti-armor weapon systems for every Russian tank in Ukraine. “Much of the new equipment that we have announced in the last two weeks has already arrived in Ukraine, where it can be used directly on the battlefield,” he told reporters.
On Monday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin visited kyiv and pledged continued support for Ukraine in its fight.
Austin said Washington wants “to see Russia weakened” after the war. Earlier this week, the State Department also said the United States is seeking a “strategic defeat” for Russia in Ukraine that would leave Moscow weaker and more isolated internationally.
But on Thursday, Biden said the United States is only aiming to hold Russia responsible for the invasion.
“We are not attacking Russia; we are helping Ukraine to defend itself from Russian aggression,” she said. “And just as Putin chose to launch this brutal invasion, he could make the decision to end this brutal invasion.”