US President Joe Biden on Thursday urged the Congress to approve a huge $33 billion package for arming and supporting Ukraine as the war with Russia continues into a third month.
While making the proposal, Biden said that the West will not “cave” in to Russia, which has been trying hard to take over Ukraine since launching an invasion on Feb. 24.
The supplemental funding request includes $16.4 billion for the Defense Department, $8.5 billion in economic assistance, and $3 billion for humanitarian assistance and to fight food insecurity.
“Additional security assistance will put urgently needed equipment into the hands of Ukraine’s military and police, including ammunition, armored vehicles, small arms, demining assistance and unmanned aircraft systems,” Biden wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.
Biden also said that he is aware of the dramatic costs of US backing for Ukraine, but there was no real choice in the struggle with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The cost of this fight is not cheap. But caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen,” he said.
Additionally, the Biden administration is seeking $4 billion in Foreign Military Financing for Ukraine, a State Department program that would help Kyiv the ability to purchase American defense articles from the US. Biden confirmed that the US has already sent 10 tank-killing weapons for every Russian tank sent into the country.
Meanwhile, Biden also said that they are not fighting Russia, but helping Ukraine in its war.
“We’re not attacking Russia. We are helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression,” Biden said.
The US president also said that Washington was working to shore up European energy supplies after Russian state gas giant Gazprom announced it was cutting supplies to NATO and EU members Bulgaria and Poland.
“We will not let Russia intimidate or blackmail their way out of these sanctions. We will not allow them to use their oil and gas to avoid consequences for their aggression,” Biden said.
The bulk of the proposed $33 billion package, which will go into helping Ukraine stand up against Russia, will be “$20 billion in military and other security assistance. This means weapons and ammunition flowing to the Ukrainian people,” a senior US official told reporters.
A further $8.5 billion in economic aid will “help the government of Ukraine respond to the immediate crisis,” while some $3 billion is proposed to fund humanitarian assistance.
Speaking in the White House, Biden also outlined proposed new laws to allow using luxury assets stripped from Russian oligarchs. So far, the EU allies have frozen more than $30 billion in Russian assets, including almost $7 billion in luxury goods belonging to oligarchs, including yachts, art, real estate and helicopters, the White House said.
The United States 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 US accounts,” said the statement.