US government is running out of cash for Ukraine
The White House only has $250mn to spend on military support for Kiev and is therefore eagerly waiting for the requested $33bn
The US government needs Congress to approve its $33 billion request as soon as possible because it only has $250 million remaining from the previous package of assistance for Ukraine, White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki has said.
US President Joe Biden signed the request on Thursday. He admitted that $33 billion “is not cheap” but claimed that “caving to aggression is going to be more costly.”
During a press briefing on the same day, Psaki was asked what the deadline was for when the government “absolutely needs” the new funding. She responded 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 spokeswoman said.
She emphasized that to provide Kiev with “the weapons they need, the artillery they need, the equipment they need,” getting new funding was “certainly urgent.”
Meanwhile, both the Republicans and Democrats said that $33 billion might not come through quickly as there were many issues that needed to be sorted out. CNN reported sources said Democrats were aiming to pass the package by the end of May, but Republicans indicated they would need 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 (R-FL) said.
Commenting on the ongoing financial aid and deliveries of weapons from Washington to Kiev, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Friday that the US wasn’t 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 Kiev “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 Zelensky said the Western countries had finally begun to provide Kiev with the types of weapons it asked for.
Moscow, in turn, 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 also made it clear that any military hardware deliveries would be considered a legitimate target once they crossed into Ukraine.
Russia sent its troops into Ukraine in late February, following Kiev’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s eventual recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German and French brokered Minsk Protocol 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. Kiev insists the Russian offensive was completely unprovoked and has denied claims it was planning to retake the two republics by force.