During President Biden’s first State of the Union address last Tuesday, he promised Ukraine that the United States would continue its assistance to Ukrainians and pursue punishing the Russian government and its oligarchs for the invasion of their country. The State of the Union address was notably attended by Ukrainian Ambassador to the United States Oksana Markarova, who received a standing ovation from those who had attended.
Biden addressed both Ukraine and Russia during his speech, where he first praised Ukraine and its people due to their bravery and undying spirit to defend their country. Note that it is not only the Ukrainian Armed Forces who are defending their country. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had announced last week that Ukrainian volunteers who wanted to fight for Ukraine could be given weapons if they chose to do so. The public has voluntarily made Molotov cocktails to throw at the Russian invaders in an attempt to defend themselves. Furthermore, Ukrainians are taking themselves as physical shields against Russian tanks by blocking military vehicles as a collective on the streets.
“Six days ago, Russia’s Vladimir Putin sought to shake the foundations of the free world thinking he could make it bend to his menacing ways. But he badly miscalculated. He thought he could roll into Ukraine, and the world would rollover. Instead, he met a wall of strength he never imagined. He met the Ukrainian people,” said President Biden.
He reiterated that his administration would continue to provide military, economic, and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine, where he had recently sent another $350 million assistance package to Ukraine in what the White House calls ‘lethal defensive assistance’ through the Foreign Assistance Act. According to US Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken, this recent military assistance package brings the total amount of US assistance to Ukraine over just the past year to be at $1 billion.
Biden stated that the US’ support will be continuing and that he would actively be pursuing more sanctions to punish the Russian government and the perpetrators of the invasion. “We will continue to aid the Ukrainian people as they defend their country and to help ease their suffering,” he said.
If you can remember, Biden, along with the European Union, France, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and even neutral countries such as Sweden, Switzerland, and Finland had imposed sanctions on Russia due to their expansionist rhetoric and aggression against Ukraine.
“Preventing Russia’s central bank from defending the Russian Ruble making Putin’s $630 Billion ‘war fund’ worthless,” he said.
Some of these sanctions included weakening Russia’s financial institutions, its ability to pay its sovereign debt, banning Russian banks from SWIFT, and sanctioning Putin and his inner circle of oligarch friends.
He claimed that Putin, who he described as a dictator, had “no idea of what’s coming” and that he was coming for an extensive amount of Russian oligarchs in the coming weeks. Biden also stated that he was going to create a task force to make sure that the sanctions on Russia were being implemented, which had been launched on Wednesday under the name Task Force KleptoCapture.
“Tonight, I say to the Russian oligarchs and corrupt leaders who have bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime no more. The US Department of Justice is assembling a dedicated task force to go after the crimes of Russian oligarchs. We are joining with our European allies to find and seize your yachts, your luxury apartments,[and] your private jets. We are coming for your ill-begotten gains,” he boldly claimed.
President Biden did not acknowledge in the speech that the threat of crushing sanctions against Russia should it invade, which was the centerpiece of his administration’s deterrence posture in the months leading up to the war was an apparently failure. On December 7th, 2021, a SOFREP editorial offered that Russia feared American weapons in Ukraine, not sanctions.
When the history of this era is written, Putin’s war on Ukraine will have left Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger.
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 2, 2022
Furthermore, he praised the resolve of the Ukrainian people, which had been fighting valiantly to repel Russian forces despite being outgunned and outnumbered. “From President Zelenskyy to every Ukrainian, their fearlessness, their courage, their determination, inspires the world,” the President stated. “He will never extinguish their love of freedom. He will never weaken the resolve of the free world.”
White House Requests $10B for Ukraine Assistance
In a letter from the White House budget director Shalanda Young to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, it was seen that Biden was requesting $10 billion in additional humanitarian, security, and economic assistance for Ukraine and Central European partners amidst the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Biden had also requested $22.5 billion to go to COVID-19 response efforts in the same letter.
“This request identifies an immediate need for $10.0 billion in additional humanitarian, security, and economic assistance for Ukraine and Central European partners due to Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion. It also outlines a number of authorities needed to provide maximum flexibility in supporting Ukraine, our European allies and partners, and other emergent global needs,” the letter read.
An attached detailed funding request reveals where the $10 billion would go. First, $4.8 billion would be allocated to the Department of Defense to support US troop deployments in support of the NATO efforts. Under this $4.8 billion allocation is the following:
- $1.8 billion was allocated to direct support to US military units in the US European Command and NATO Response Forces. This would include costs such as transportation, weapons system sustainment, medical support, temporary duty, special pay, and flying hours, to name a few.
- $1.25 billion would be allocated to cybersecurity and intelligence efforts, specifically operational surges, accelerated cyber capabilities, increased intelligence support, and classified programs.
- $1.750 billion is for the replenishment of DOD stocks provided to Ukraine(presumably for Javelin and Stinger missiles).
An amount of $5 billion was allocated to the Department of State and United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This includes the following:
- Humanitarian assistance amounting to $2.75 billion.
- Military assistance amounting to $500 million
- $1.75 billion economic assistance for the people of Ukraine.
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