Congress proposes more than $44 billion for Ukraine

Congress proposes more than $44 billion for Ukraine

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WASHINGTON — The gargantuan annual spending bill unveiled by Congress on Tuesday includes more than $44 billion in emergency aid for Ukraine and renews U.S. commitment to the country’s defense as the Russian invasion heads into a second year.

The new wave of aid to Ukraine — billions more than President Biden requested in mid-November — comes amid growing concerns among the country’s supporters about the depth of American support. Some Republicans have questioned the massive spending, while some progressives have called for peace talks.

The aid package consists mostly of military spending, including nearly $20 billion to arm and equip Ukraine’s armed forces and to replenish the Defense Ministry’s stockpiles, from which weapons are sent to Kyiv. Some of that money would also be used to bolster the defenses of America’s NATO allies to protect them from further Russian aggression.

Another $6.2 billion would support a wave of US forces in Eastern Europe ordered by Mr. Biden after the Russian invasion, including thousands of American troops deployed to Poland and Romania.

The federal government is funding the “omnibus” budget proposal, which includes the new Ukraine aid, until next year in order to avoid a shutdown. If Congress passes it, US aid to Kyiv since February’s Russian invasion will total more than $100 billion, spread across four emergency packages. Congressional leaders hope to get approval for the spending this week.

Perhaps reflecting the enormous size of the aid package and the speed with which it was put together, Democratic and Republican appropriators differed in their calculations of the final price tag. Democrats put the figure at just under $45 billion, and Republicans said the total exceeded $47 billion.

US aid was vital to Ukraine’s survival and the heavy blow the country dealt to the Russian military, which thoroughly misjudged Ukraine’s resistance. Mr. Biden has said that defending Ukraine is vital to defending democracy and the core principle of national sovereignty.

The package also includes non-military assistance to keep Ukraine’s government and economy running while it withstands Russian bombing, which is increasingly targeting the country’s infrastructure. Congress proposes spending $12.9 billion to prop up Ukraine’s economy and address acute energy shortages caused by Russian attacks.

Another $4 billion would be used mostly to support Ukrainian refugees, whose numbers are expected to increase as Russian attacks leave major cities without heating and electricity this winter. Some of this money would meet the needs of migrants in other regions of the world.

Some Republicans have called for reducing US aid to Ukraine or imposing new controls and conditions on the money. But a fact sheet released by Republicans on the Senate Appropriations Committee, which manages federal spending, boasted that the package “rejects the government’s request to curtail support for Ukraine’s war effort” — an obvious indication of the slightly lower level of spending , which is proposed by the government Last month the White House.

Mr Biden has vowed to side with Ukraine against Russian aggression “for as long as necessary”.

A poll released earlier this month by the nonpartisan Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that about two-thirds of Americans support continued military and economic support for Ukraine, although less than half of Americans support continuing that support indefinitely, and growing Number – almost half – support pressure on Ukraine to make peace as soon as possible.

US and Ukrainian officials insist Russia is unwilling to negotiate in good faith. Moscow would exploit any ceasefire or peace treaty for military gain, they say.

The measure includes several provisions that ensure aid to Ukraine is subject to stricter oversight. Some US officials fear American guns could be diverted or stolen for resale in a country long known for endemic corruption. The spending bill requires the Department of Defense to report to Congress on the steps it is taking to ensure weapons are being delivered and deployed as intended. It also allocates $27 million to the inspectors general of the State Department, Department of Defense and the US Agency for International Development to oversee the aid.

In a sign of concern about the West’s ability to continue supplying Ukraine and sustain its own declining arms and ammunition stockpiles, the package provides $675 million over nearly three years to expand and modernize arms factories in the United States. Several government-owned facilities operated by private contractors date from World War II or earlier, and their modernization has long been a goal of the defense industry and the Pentagon.

Congress has also proposed spending $300 million on food security programs to help alleviate a global food crisis exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of a top grain and fertilizer exporter.

And the measure sees additional funds of $50 million to combat cybersecurity threats from Russia, $105 million to clear landmines and other dangerous remnants of war in Ukraine, and $300 million for Ukraine’s police and border guards before.

John Ismay and Eric Schmitt contributed reporting.

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