(CNN) — US President Joe Biden has asked Congress to bill $33 billion in additional funding to support Ukraine in the coming months as Russia’s brutal and unrelenting war enters a new phase.
In another major request, Biden outlined a proposal that would put further pressure on Russian oligarchs in the face of invasion in Ukraine, including using money from their seized assets to fund Ukraine’s defense.
“The cost of this fight is not cheap. But giving in to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen. Either we stand with the people of Ukraine as they defend their country, or we stand by while the Russians continue their atrocities.” Biden said.
He added: “We need this bill to support Ukraine in this fight for freedom.”
The multibillion-dollar request includes $20.4 billion requested for military and security assistance. That includes $5 billion in additional withdrawal authorizations, $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and $4 billion for the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing Program, a senior official told reporters. government official.
The official noted that a portion of the $20 billion in military aid could be used to replenish munitions and equipment contributions from other countries. Which would allow those nations “to fully defend themselves.” The official characterized the initiative in the context of Biden’s effort to unite the world in support of Ukraine.
Biden is expected to further detail the request during his remarks on US support for Ukraine at 10:45 am Miami time.
What does Biden’s millionaire proposal to help Ukraine include?
Also included in the request is $8.5 billion in economic assistance “to help the Ukrainian government respond to the immediate crisis and continue to provide basic services to the Ukrainian people,” the official said. A White House fact sheet suggested the funding would also help counter Russian disinformation and propaganda narratives and support independent media.
Additional funds for humanitarian assistance and food security, to the tune of US$3 billion, including “wheat and other basic products” for those in need, were also provided, according to the official. Some of that funding will go toward job training, mental health services and resources for U.S. school districts to support Ukrainians coming to the country, as well as other efforts to help Ukrainian refugees and countries that provide them with refuge.
Specific funding is also included “to address economic disruptions in the country and around the world due to Putin’s aggression.” Which will help increase US production of food crops like soybeans, as well as resources to enable the use of the Defense Production Act and expand US production of critical reserves of minerals and other war-hit materials.
Help in a war without truce
The president announced last week that the US would send an additional $800 million in military assistance to Ukraine as Russia refocuses its drive to seize new territory in the country’s east. Biden argued that the Moscow war entered what he called a “critical window.” Which makes military aid from the West even more essential.
If approved, the package announced last week would mean the US has committed roughly $3.4 billion in assistance to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion began on February 24.
In addition to military aid to Ukraine, the United States and its NATO allies have issued a series of sanctions against Russia. The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada implemented sanctions against Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. They also banned certain Russian banks from the SWIFT system, the highly secure network that facilitates payments between 11,000 financial institutions in 200 countries.
Biden also announced a ban on Russian imports of oil, natural gas and coal to the United States. The House of Representatives also passed a bill to suspend normal trade relations with Russia.
Biden seeks to further pressure Russian oligarchs to support Ukraine
Biden also submitted the proposal for a new legislative package that seeks to put even more pressure on Russian oligarchs regarding Russia’s war in Ukraine. One of the measures proposes to use the money seized assets to finance the defense of Ukraine.
The package – which was developed through an interagency process involving the Treasury Department, the Justice Department, the State Department and the Commerce Department – “will establish new authorities for the seizure of assets linked to the Russian kleptocracy , will allow the government to use the proceeds to support Ukraine and further strengthen security-related tools,” the White House said in a fact sheet.
One element of Biden’s proposed package seeks to streamline the federal government’s efforts to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs. And he would do so with a new administrative process through the Treasury Department and the Justice Department “to seize property in the United States belonging to sanctioned Russian oligarchs and linked to specific illicit conduct.” The measure would make it a criminal offense for people to “knowingly or intentionally possess proceeds obtained directly from corrupt dealings with the Russian government.”
A new destination for proceeds from seized assets
The proposal would also help direct the proceeds of “seized funds related to corruption, sanctions and export control violations, and other targeted crimes to remedy the damage of Russian aggression toward Ukraine.” The Department of Justice, the Department of the Treasury, and the Department of State would work together on these efforts. Earlier this week, Attorney General Merrick Garland said the Biden administration would support legislation that would allow some of the proceeds from assets the department seizes from Russian oligarchs “to go directly to Ukraine.”
The proposed package would allow “confiscation of assets that Russian oligarchs can use to facilitate sanctions evasion.” This represents a change from current US law that only allows the country to seize proceeds from sanctions violations. It would also classify sanctions evasion as “extortion activity” and extend the statute of limitations for prosecuting foreign-based money laundering from 5 to 10 years. In addition, it would enhance the US’s ability to work with allies and partners to recover assets linked to foreign crimes. corruption.
Officials said the Justice Department has the authority to seize assets involved in criminal acts. In this sense, they explained that they were seeking from Congress a “more extensive and accelerated administrative process” that would allow the confiscation of assets.
The road ahead in Congress
While members agreed that more money is needed for Ukraine, it remains unclear how the supplement could move through Congress or how quickly the oligarchs proposal could pass. One possible path would be to link the two legislations. But Republican and Democratic leaders are in the early stages of talks about how to approve broader funding for Ukraine.
Asked whether Ukraine’s funding should move forward alongside new funding for the COVID-19 pandemic response, a second official said “it certainly makes sense for them to move together.” But, he refused to preempt the legislative process.