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Biden asks Congress for $33 billion in new aid package to Ukraine

(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden formally asked Congress on Thursday for $33 billion in supplemental aid for Ukraine over the next five months to help counter Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion over the long term.

“The cost of this fight is not cheap. But caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen,” Biden said. “It’s critical this funding gets approved and approved as quickly as possible.”

“We’re not attacking Russia. We’re helping Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression,” he added. “And just as Putin chose to launch this brutal invasion, he could make the choice to end it, this brutal invasion. Russia is the aggressor, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. Russia is the aggressor, and the world must and will hold Russia accountable.”

Biden said the supplemental budget request will allow weapons and ammunition to flow “without interruption to the brave Ukrainian fighters” and the U.S. to continue delivering economic and humanitarian assistance to the Ukrainian people, whom he said are paying the real price of this fight with their lives.

Over $20 billion of the $33 billion would be for military and other security systems, the White House said. Biden is also asking for an additional $8.5 billion in economic assistance to help provide basic services to the Ukrainian people and $3 billion in humanitarian assistance and food security funding.

Part of the package also includes targeted funding to address economic disruptions in the U.S. as a result of the war in Ukraine, like helping increase U.S. production of wheat and soybeans, “and funding to allow the use of the Defense Production Act to expand domestic production of critical reserves — of reserves of critical minerals and materials that have been disrupted by Putin’s war and are necessary to make everything from defense systems to cars,” a senior administration official said ahead of Biden’s remarks.

Biden said he was also sending lawmakers another comprehensive package to enhance our effort to sanction Russian oligarchs and “take their ill-begotten gains.”

As billions in additional COVID funding remains stalled in Congress, asked if that funding should be tied to the Ukraine aid, Biden said, “I don’t care how they do it — I’m sending them both up.”

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