President Joe Biden on Thursday asked Congress for an additional $33 billion in military and humanitarian assistance for the Ukraine, which officials say could fund the war there for the next five months.
Biden said the previous money allocated for the Ukrainians has been spent.
‘Basically we’re out of money,’ he said in remarks at the White House.
The money includes $20.4 billion in additional security and military assistance, $8.5 billion in economic assistance, and $3 billion in humanitarian assistance.
‘We need to contribute arms funding ammunition and the economic support to make their courage and sacrifice have purpose so they can continue this fight and do what they’re doing. It’s critical this funding gets approved and approved as quickly as possible,’ Biden said.
‘We have to do our part as well leading the alliance. The cost of this fight, it’s not cheap, but caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen. We either back Ukrainian people as they defend their country or we stand by as Russia continues it atrocities and aggression in Ukraine,’ he noted.
The humanitarian assistance includes funds for high thermal blankets, medical supplies, emergency health kits, safe drinking water, direct food support such as wheat and flour, job training, trauma-informed mental health services, and funding for schools.
Biden said the funding for food will help ease rising prices back in the United States. Ukraine is a major producer of wheat and sunflowers. The war there has disrupted the supply line and caused a price hike.
‘This one is going to help ease rising food prices at home as well and abroad,’ Biden claimed.
Biden is asking Congress for an additional $33 billion in military and humanitarian assistance for the Ukraine
The funding includes $3 billion in humanitarian assistanc – funds for high thermal blankets, medical supplies, emergency health kits, safe drinking water, direct food support such as wheat and flour, job training, trauma-informed mental health services, and funding for schools
Ukraine is seeking at least $5 billion per month in international emergency aid – above the destruction in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, after a Russian missile attack
The $33 billion request is more than double the $13 billion that Biden asked for last month and lawmakers approved. The Biden administration has sent more than $2.4 billion in assistance to the Ukraine.
‘The president’s funding request is what we believe it needed to enable Ukraine success over the next five months of this war,’ a senior administration official told reporters on a briefing call.
Biden, in a letter to lawmakers formally making the request, asked to tie the Ukraine aid to $22.5 billion in covid pandemic response funding he requested in March. Democrats wanted to tie Ukraine and covid aid together as Republicans tried to tie an effort to extend the Title 42 health order at the border to the covid funding request.
He said the covid money is urgently needed to have money for additional vaccines and theraputics in order stop the spread of the disease in the U.S. and abroad.
‘The reason we were so successful in the past is because I was able to work with drug manufacturers to order significant quantities of material we needed ahead of time to get in the front of the line. Without additional funding, we can’t preorder the amount of vaccines we need and we risk losing our spot in line for vaccines,’ he said.
Republican senators, however, had said without a vote on an amendment on Title 42, then there will be no covid funding bill. Democrats in the Senate need at least 10 Republican votes to move the legislation forward but leaders are in a tough spot as enough Democrats may support the Title 42 amendment to get it attached.
Biden also wants to sell the luxury yachts and opulent apartments the U.S. government has seized from Russian oligarchs and then send that money to the Ukraine to help them fight off Vladimir Putin‘s forces.
The president on Thursday asked Congress to expand his presidential powers to allow him to do just that.
‘Seize yachts, fund the war,’ White House chief of staff Ron Klain tweeted about the request.
Additionally, Biden asked lawmakers for billions of dollars in additional U.S. spending to help the Ukrainian military and provide humantarian assistance for its displaced population.
And he asked lawmakers to make it a criminal offense for a person to ‘knowingly or intentionally possess proceeds directly obtained from corrupt dealings with the Russian government,’ double the statute of limitations for foreign money laundering offenses to 10 years, and expand the definition of ‘racketeering’ under U.S. law to include efforts to evade sanctions.
President Joe Biden wants to sell the luxury yachts and opulent apartments the U.S. government has seized from Russian oligarchs and send money to Ukraine – above is the ‘Tango’ – the seized 254-foot yacht to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and close Putin ally, that is worth an estimated $120 million
More than a dozen yachts, worth approximately $2.5 billion, have been seized in several countries worldwide
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that his country had – thus far – suffered $550 billion in economic damage since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion. The country is seeking at least $5 billion per month in international emergency aid.
Biden’s request comes as there has been a bipartisan push in Washington to more aggressively punish the Russian elite, a group of billionaires – many of whom have made their money off of Putin’s regime.
The Biden administration has already sanctioned about two dozen oligarchs and their family members, even targeting Putin himself.
More than a dozen yachts, worth approximately $2.5 billion, have been seized in several countries worldwide, including the ‘Tango’ – a 254-foot yacht to Viktor Vekselberg, a billionaire and close Putin ally, that is worth an estimated $120 million.
It was seized by the U.S. from its Spanish port earlier this month.
It was the first U.S. seizure of an oligarch’s yacht since Attorney General Merrick Garland and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen assembled a task force known as REPO — short for Russian Elites, Proxies and Oligarchs — to enforce the sanctions put in place after Putin invaded the Ukraine.
The federal government ‘has sanctioned and blocked vessels and aircraft worth over $1 billion, as well as frozen hundreds of millions of dollars of assets belonging to Russian elites in U.S. bank accounts,’ the White House said.
The administration also noted that European Union member states have reported freezing over $30 billion in assets, including almost $7 billion in boats, helicopters, real estate and artwork.
Russia’s billionaires control roughly 30 percent of the nation’s wealth.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said last week that his country had – thus far – suffered $550 billion in economic damage since Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion
And lawmakers already have pushed to use those seized assets to help the Ukraine.
The House on Wednesday passed a mostly symbolic measure urging Biden to sell the oligarchs’ frozen assets to give the money to the Ukraine military and humanitarian assistance.
The legislation is nonbinding, but its 417-to-8 passage reflected the desire among Democrats and Republicans to more aggressively tamp down on Russia.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer said it would be taken up by the Senate, where it is expected to pass.
But the Justice Department needs a congressional change in statue to sort through the mess of legal issues that will need to be unraveled so the United States to repurpose the yachts and extravagant apartments into de facto reparations for Ukrainians.
In his State of the Union address on March 1, President Biden warned oligarchs that the U.S. and European allies would ‘find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments, your private jets.’
‘We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,’ he said.