President Biden will ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to help Ukraine fend off the Russian invasion, two administration officials said Thursday, per the AP. Biden's latest proposal—which the officials said was expected to last for five months—has more than $20 billion in military assistance for Ukraine and for bolstering defenses in nearby countries. There is also $8.5 billion in economic aid to help keep Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky's government functioning and $3 billion for food and humanitarian programs to help civilians and other spending, said the officials.
The new proposal would be more than twice as large as the initial $13.6 billion package of defense and economic aid for Ukraine and Western allies that Congress enacted last month and is almost exhausted. It seemed to signal a long-term US commitment to staving off Russian President Vladimir Putin's attempt to expand his nation's control of its neighbor, and perhaps beyond. The request comes with the fighting, now in its ninth week, sharpening in eastern and southern parts of the country and international tensions growing as Russia cuts off gas supplies to two NATO allies, Poland and Bulgaria.
There is wide, bipartisan support in Congress for giving Ukraine all the assistance it needs to fight the Russians, and its eventual approval seems certain. But Biden and congressional Democrats also want lawmakers to approve an additional $22.5 billion for vaccines, treatments, testing, and aid to other countries in continuing efforts to contain COVID-19, and that along with a Republican push to entangle the measure with an extension of some Trump-era immigration restrictions leaves the proposal's pathway to enactment unclear. In a compromise with Republicans, Senate Democrats have already agreed to pare the $22.5 billion figure to $10 billion. (Read more Ukraine stories.)