US President Joe Biden on Thursday asked Congress to approve $ 33 billion in additional aid to Ukraine to help the country resist invading Russian forces over the next five months, and Parliament passed overwhelming legislation aimed at speeding up military aid to Ukraine. .
“Investing in Ukraine’s freedom … is a small price to pay,” Biden said in a White House speech. “We are not attacking Russia; we are helping Ukraine defend itself.”
Later on Thursday, the House of Representatives voted with 417-10 votes to pass the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act. The Senate voted unanimously in support weeks earlier.
The law, which is a revival of a World War II program, allows the US government to circumvent procedural barriers that slow down the supply of weapons.
Latest developments in Ukraine: 28 April
The White House said the $ 33 billion plan would include more than $ 20 billion in new weapons and military assistance and $ 8.5 billion in financial assistance to Ukraine. The rest would go to humanitarian aid and food programs to counter the interruption of supply by the Russian invasion.
The sum is more than twice the $ 13.6 billion previously approved by Congress, a sum that has mostly been depleted by arms shipments to Ukraine in recent weeks.
“Basically, we run out of money” for more Ukraine support, Biden said.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the administration was convinced that a politically divided Congress would convene to support US aid to Ukraine.
“Of course it is urgent to get this funding done,” she said. “There has been bipartisan support in the past, and we are really looking forward to working with them to get this done as quickly as possible.”
In a direct message to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Biden said: “You will never succeed in dominating Ukraine.”
Biden criticized the Russian leader for shutting down natural gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria this week, saying the United States and its allies “will not let Russia squeeze them out.” [economic] sanctions imposed on Russian financial institutions and oligarchs near Putin.
‘Aggression will not win. Threats will not win, Biden said.
Work with allies, partners
Biden’s new proposal calls for closer cooperation with international partners in order to “restore assets linked to foreign corruption” and to extend the time for bringing charges against money laundering from five years to 10 years.
A White House statement said the measures would “strengthen the US government’s authority to hold the Russian government and Russian oligarchs accountable for President Putin’s war against Ukraine” – to “seize property linked to Russia’s kleptocracy”, as Biden described it.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, fourth left, is seen visiting Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 28, 2022.
When Russia launched new attacks on eastern Ukraine, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres visited the capital, Kyiv, and nearby suburbs that had been destroyed by Moscow’s attack. He later met with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
“The highest price is paid by civilians,” Guterres said of the war as he toured Borodyanka and Irpin, as well as Bucha, where the bodies of civilians were found after Russian forces withdrew from the area a month ago. These findings prompted calls for investigations into possible war crimes, and Guterres on Thursday encouraged Russia to cooperate in investigations by the International Criminal Court.
“I fully support the ICC, and I appeal to the Russian Federation to accept, to cooperate with the ICC,” Guterres said. “But when we talk about war crimes, we can not forget that the worst of the crimes is the war itself.”
“The sooner the war ends, the better – for the sake of Ukraine, Russia and the world,” Guterres tweeted.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has forced Finland and Sweden to consider applying to join NATO’s military alliance, and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that if they choose to take that step, the process could be completed quickly.
– It is of course up to Finland and Sweden to decide whether they want to apply for NATO membership or not. But if they decide to apply, Finland and Sweden would be welcomed with open arms to NATO, Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels.
Russia has expressed opposition to a possible NATO membership for Finland and Sweden, saying that if it did, Russia would deploy nuclear weapons and hypersonic missiles to Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave on the Baltic Sea.
“This is basically about the right of every nation in Europe to decide its own future,” Stoltenberg said. “So when Russia tries to threaten, to scare Finland and Sweden from not applying, it just shows how Russia does not respect each nation’s fundamental right to choose its own path.”
VOA’s Margaret Besheer, Katherine Gypson and Jeff Seldin contributed to this report. Some information came from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.