“We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” Biden said at the White House after signing the request on Thursday, according to Reuters.
“The cost of this fight—it’s not cheap—but caving to aggression is going to be more costly,” added Biden.
The figure represents a 10-fold increase in the amount of financial aid that the US has committed to Ukraine, which was reported at $3 billion by USA Today, as of the middle of April.
Since then, the US has committed not only to financing the war effort, but also bolstering the notoriously corrupt Ukrainian government—an enterprise that Biden became intimately familiar with in the Obama administration, when his son Hunter served on the board of the Burisma natural gas company as it was investigated for financial crimes.
Previously, Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelenskyy had said that to continue the war against Russia he needed about $7 billion in aid every month to cover the salaries and pensions of Ukrainian public officials.
The new aid package would put Ukraine on more or less equal footing with Russia, which had about a $70 billion defense budget in 2021, according to the Stockholm International Peace and Research Institute.
Biden’s new aid package to Ukraine — $33 billion, including $20 billion in military assistance.
2021 Russian military budget — $65.9 billion.
— Michael McFaul (@McFaul) April 29, 2022
The aid request includes $20 billion for military aid and security assistance, $8.5 billion dollars for economic assistance and $3 billion for humanitarian aid, reported DefenseNews.com.
Regrettably, some Senate Democrats have toyed with the idea of including the Ukraine military assistance with further COVID pandemic relief for Americans.
“[D]oing so could delay the passage of additional funds for Kyiv, as Republicans have refused to advance COVID-19 aid absent an immigration-related vote,” said Defense News.
The aid package represents over 20% of Ukraine’s GDP, according to data shared by the World Bank, and would mark more than a five-fold increase over Ukraine’s 2021 defense budget of nearly $6 billion.
The funding request means that the United States has committed long-term to defending Ukraine’s independence from Russia, according to Politico, and it will mark a significant change from the days when the Obama administration, under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, claimed to be seeking a Russian “reset.”
“The high dollar amount requested also sends a signal to Russia that the United States intends to back Ukraine in the fight for the long run,” noted Politico.
“It will also likely boost Ukrainians who say they want to defeat Russia, not merely settle for a long-term stalemate,” Politico added.
Which exact military equipment will be shipped to Ukraine by the US remains unclear.