Following continued Russian attacks in the Donbas region, the Ukrainians have successfully defended their territory, with minimal areas under Russian control. The Ukrainian city of Kreminna has reportedly fallen into Russian hands, and fighting is underway in Izyum. Russian advances are also underway to capture Sloviansk and Kramatorsk. In light of these developments, Ukraine has asked the United States for more emergency assistance in the form of $2 billion worth of economic aid per month.
Ukrainian Finance Minister Sergii Marchenko, who was in Washington for meetings with several US officials, reportedly asked the US if they could supply Ukraine with $2 billion per month, citing the need for emergency economic aid. In total, the Ukrainian government is looking for at least $5 billion per month overall from the international community. The funds will reportedly be used for the country’s humanitarian and economic needs in the months of April, May, and June, as per a report by The Washington Post.
In an interview, Marchenko reportedly told the Washington Post that it was necessary to finance Ukraine and its war with Russia and that there is a need to cover the financial “gap.”
This plea from Ukraine comes after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin visited Kyiv in secret to show Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky the US’ unwavering support in their battle against Russia. The officials reportedly had a three-hour, face-to-face meeting with Zelensky in Ukraine.
“This was, in our judgment, an important moment to be there, to have face-to-face conversations in detail,” Blinken said.
Journalists were not allowed to report on the two US officials’ trip to Ukraine until it was over because of security reasons. They were also prohibited from joining the officials during their trip and were not allowed to disclose where in Poland they waited for Austin and Blinken to return.
This visit was accompanied by over $713 million in foreign military financing for Kyiv and other 16 allied countries. Of the $713 million, $322 million is directly for Ukraine. The remaining funds will be distributed to NATO members and other countries which have donated weaponry and munitions to Ukraine. What sets out this particular financing from the US is that it is purely money that is at their disposal. No weapons from the US stockpile will be donated. Instead, Ukraine has full control over what munitions and equipment they need as they see fit.
With the donation, the US has now provided $3.7 billion worth of assistance packages to Ukraine since the invasion started. It is by far the top country that has helped Ukraine financially, with Poland coming in second. In terms of economic support, the US has donated some $1 billion to aid Kyiv.
“He has the mindset that they want to win, and we have the mindset that we want to help them win,” Austin told reporters. According to the Defense Secretary, the first step of winning a war is believing that “you can win” and stressed that Ukraine can win if they have the right equipment.
“We’re going to do everything we can … to ensure that gets to them,” he said. These weapons were reportedly vital to the war as the landscape of the battlefield had changed from the densely wooded northern Ukraine to the east. This is why Ukraine needs more tanks and artillery, which they have been receiving from their US and European allies.
“We want to see Ukraine remain a sovereign country, a democratic country able to protect its sovereign territory. We want to see Russia weakened to the point where it can’t do things like invade Ukraine,” Austin said.
Apart from the $322 million from the United States, Ukraine decided to purchase $165 million worth of ammunition for their Soviet-era weaponry.
Furthermore, Treasury Secretary Janet L. Yellen has revealed that the Biden administration is planning on sending another request to Congress for funds that will go to Ukraine as the war is expected to extend for some time. On the other hand, intel does suggest that Russia will try to conclude their war in Ukraine by May 9th, which is when they celebrate their Victory Day.
Yellen did not disclose how much the Biden administration was requesting. Despite this, the US Congress is expected to support this request as the Russian war in Ukraine has enjoyed bipartisan support in recent memory despite some minor differences in views. If approved, Marchenko said it would use the money for humanitarian efforts such as providing salaries for health care professionals, pensions, and education needs.
Reports have also arisen that several lawmakers in the US Congress want to give the frozen Russian assets from the Russian central bank to Ukraine. However, there is no update regarding the status of this proposal. This would also likely cause outrage from Russian politicians, including Putin himself, which is why this move is still up for debate.
“We were inspired by their courage and stand with them and will do everything we can to pull our resources to support the needs that are identified,” Yellen said.