Congress must approve a $ 33 billion request from the US government at the earliest, as the administration is left with a meagre $ 250 million from the previous package of assistance for Ukraine, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said. US President Joe Biden signed the request on 28 April, conceding that $ 33 billion “is not cheap” but claimed that “caving to aggression is going to be more costly”.
During a press briefing on Thursday, reporters asked Psaki what the deadline was, before which the US government would “absolutely need” the new funding. She said that the “need is urgent, as is the need for Covid funding is urgent”.
“As you know, we had $ 3.5 billion in military security assistance. We have about $ 250 million of that left in drawdown. So, obviously, we will work to expedite that and provide that to the Ukrainians,” the US government said.
The White House emphasised that to provide Kyiv with “the weapons they need, the artillery they need, the equipment they need”, getting new funding was “certainly urgent”.
In the meantime, both Republicans and Democrats say that $ 33 billion may not be realised promptly because there are several issues that need to be sorted out. CNN cited sources as saying that Democrats were aiming to okay the package by the end of May, but Republicans indicated that they needed some time to consider more carefully what to include in the bill.
“I have to go through the details. I don’t fixate as much on the amount. It’s more about what is it that you intend to provide to them? Is it what they need right now for the foreseeable future?” US Senator Marco Rubio (Republican from Florida) said.
Commenting on the ongoing financial aid and deliveries of weapons from the US government to the Ukrainian counterpart, the spokesman of the Foreign Ministry of China, Zhao Lijian, said today that the US was not interested in peace in Ukraine but was instead doing everything it could for the conflict in the country to last as long as possible.
The White House’s request for additional funding came on the day Nato Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance was getting prepared to support Kyiv “for months and years” as the conflict with Russia might last. He also revealed NATO aimed to help Ukraine move “from old Soviet-era equipment to more modern Nato-standard weapons and systems.”
These statements came soon after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the US government-led West had finally begun to provide Kyiv with the types of weapons it had asked for.
The Vladimir Putin government, on the other hand, has consistently warned the West against “pumping up” Ukraine with weapons, arguing that such actions would only lead to a prolongation of military actions and would create longstanding problems in the future. The Kremlin has made it clear that any military hardware deliveries would be considered a legitimate target once they crossed into Ukraine.
Russia attacked Ukraine on 26 February, following Kyiv’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbas republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The Minsk Protocol brokered by Germany and France was designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state.
The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join Nato. The Zelenskyy government insists that the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked. Kyiv has denied claims that it was planning to retake the two republics by force.