Over $20 billion in funding is requested for weapons, ammunition, and other military assistance, as well as $8.5 billion in direct economic assistance to the government and $3 billion in humanitarian aid. It is intended to meet the needs of the war effort until September, the end of the fiscal year.
“We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” Biden said after signing the request on Thursday at the White House. “The cost of this fight is not cheap, but giving in to aggression will be more costly.”
The US has ruled out sending its own or NATO forces to Ukraine, but Washington and its European allies have provided Kyiv with weapons such as drones, Howitzer heavy artillery, anti-aircraft Stinger, and anti-tank Javelin missiles.
Biden also wants the ability to seize additional funds from Russian oligarchs in order to fund the war effort.
According to the White House, his proposal would allow US officials to seize more oligarchs’ assets, return the proceeds to Ukraine, and criminalize sanctions evasion even further.
The proposed steps include allowing the Justice Department to use the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, which was once used against the mafia, to build cases against people who evade sanctions.
Biden also wants to give prosecutors more time to build such cases by increasing the statute of limitations on money laundering prosecutions from five to ten years. According to a summary of the legislative proposals, he would also make it a crime to keep money knowingly obtained from corrupt dealings with Russia.
The measures are part of the United States’ efforts to isolate and punish Russia for its invasion of Ukraine on February 24, as well as to assist Kyiv in recovering from a war that has reduced cities to rubble and forced more than 5 million people to flee abroad.
Biden has already requested record peacetime funding for Pentagon research and development, as well as efforts to counter perceived threats from countries such as Russia.
The total package represents one-fifth of pre-war Ukrainian annual economic output, and the $20 billion in military assistance from the United States is roughly one-third of what the Russian military spent last year before the war began.
A package would include food security assistance, economic stimulus for Ukraine, and funding to expand domestic production of key minerals in short supply due to the war using the Cold War-era Defense Production Act.
However, the funding measure may face opposition on Capitol Hill. Biden requested $22.5 billion in funding for the COVID-19 response in March, and Democrats with a slim majority in the Senate and House of Representatives may try to get it passed at the same time as the Ukraine bill.
While lawmakers generally support spending on Ukraine, Republican congressional aides warned on Thursday that efforts to combine war funding with pandemic response funding could make it difficult to pass.
“I’m not concerned with how they do it,” Biden said. “They can do it alone or together, but we need both.”
Since Russia launched what it calls a “special military operation” to demilitarize and remove fascists in Ukraine, US military aid to Ukraine has surpassed $3 billion. Kyiv and its Western allies reject this as a ruse.
According to the Biden administration, the US and its European allies have frozen $30 billion in assets held by wealthy individuals with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, including yachts, helicopters, real estate, and art.