Massive US Aid Package for Ukraine: It’s about Victory over Russia

President Joe Biden asked Congress for additional funds for Ukraine. This time it amounts to $33 billion, more than twice the $13.6 billion already Congress allocated for this purpose in March.

The largest part of the newest package ($20.4 billion) that Biden is sought from Congress on Thursday goes to military aid, such as weapons, equipment and restocking the reserves of NATO allies who are sending their weapons to Ukraine. This refers particularly to countries on the eastern flank such as Poland whose post-Soviet weapons Ukrainians can use without special training.

Additional allocations include $8.5 billion for economic aid to Ukraine, whose economy, according to experts, is nearly half destroyed. The funds are also to be used in the fight against a Russian disinformation campaign and to support independent media in Russia. The remaining $3 billion is slated for humanitarian aid to millions who have lost their homes and whose besieged cities may soon run out of food and medicine. This amount is also expected to include expenses for helping Ukrainian refugees in the U.S.

Stopping Russia

In addition, Biden announced a bill tightening sanctions against Russian oligarchs. The bill establishes a legal mechanism that would permit confiscation of frozen assets related to the multimillionaires who are connected to the Kremlin and use the proceeds from sales of the assets to help Ukraine. The law would also make it possible to prosecute people who “knowingly or intentionally possess proceeds directly obtained from corrupt dealings with the Russian government.”

No one yet knows how Congress will respond to the president’s request, although the prevailing opinion is that Congress will approve the funds. There is still bipartisan consensus that aid for Ukraine is necessary, because regardless of humanitarian reasons for the aid, i.e., saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, we cannot allow Russia to annihilate an independent country. However, there may be complications in passing the bills because the Biden administration intends to add additional funds to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. This could delay the release of financial aid for Ukraine.

Weapons for Ukraine for $33 Billion

Meanwhile, time is playing a key role here, especially concerning military aid. The Russian offensive in eastern Ukraine is progressing; the aggressors are slowly but systematically capturing more land thanks to the size of their army and the strength of Russian artillery and missile troops. Only a fast shipment of heavy weapons, ammunition and equipment from abroad could change the situation on the front and tip the balance in favor of the defenders. According to reports from Ukraine, some of these deliveries have already reached Donbass, but the Russians are trying to attack the shipping routes and bombing railway stations, among other targets. And Vladimir Putin has warned that countries that help Ukrainians militarily will be subject to lightning strikes in retaliation. This has sparked speculation that he’s threatening to attack with tactical nuclear weapons.

Aid from the latest package is expected to include artillery, armored vehicles, additional anti-tank missiles and anti-craft defense systems, as well as modern radars detecting Russian artillery missiles, ammunition, defense tools against cyberattacks, intelligence support, help in removing mines and protection against chemical and biological weapons. According to The Guardian, some of the funds will go toward strengthening American troops in NATO’s eastern territories.

Weaken Russia, Strengthen Biden

In announcing his proposal, Biden admitted the cost was high, but stressed that “caving to aggression would even be more costly.” At the beginning of the war, Biden refused to send heavy artillery to Ukraine, most likely convinced that the country would be taken over by the Russians pretty quickly anyway. The successful deflection of the offensive in the north, the effective defense of Kyiv and the continued Ukrainian resistance apparently emboldened the U.S. government and its European allies to help on a larger scale. In America, pressure grew from the Republican opposition and experts to set a U.S. policy goal to not merely expand Ukraine’s defense but to assure its victory. The Biden administration addressed this appeal when United States Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin announced last week that the U.S. seeks to “weaken Russia” to prevent it from further aggression.

The right wing continues to criticize Biden, claiming he should have sent heavy weapons and equipment to Ukraine earlier. Conservative commentator Marc Thiessen wrote in The Washington Post that “President Biden has finally gotten over his pathological fear of ‘provoking’ Russia and is providing Ukraine with the weapons it needs,” but had he done that a month ago the situation would have been better. Thiessen said the fate of Biden’s presidency to a large extent also depends on how the war proceeds, because if Russia starts to win, Americans will recognize it is due to “… the months of delays in providing Ukraine with the heavy weapons that [Volodymyr] Zelenskyy implored us to provide.”

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