Biden’s $33bn Ukraine aid request likely to get swift approval

Pelosi tells Zelenskiy US is ‘here until victory is won’ during surprise visit to Kyiv

Joe Biden's $33 billion (€31.3 billion) request to Congress for more aid for Ukraine is likely to receive swift approval from lawmakers, a senior Republican said on Sunday, as the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, made a surprise visit to the war-riven country.

The president on Thursday had asked for the money for military and humanitarian support for Ukraine as it fights to repulse the Russian invasion now in its third month.

Michael McCaul, a Texas Republican and ranking member of the House foreign affairs committee, went on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulous and said he expected the chamber would look favourably on the request in the coming weeks.

Mr McCaul's comments came while Ms Pelosi led a congressional delegation to Kyiv to meet the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, and the House speaker promised on behalf of the United States: "We are here until victory is won."


Mr McCaul was asked if he believed Congress would quickly pass Mr Biden’s requested package, which includes $20 billion (€18.9 billion) in military aid, $8.5 billion (€8 billion) in economic aid to Kyiv and $3 billion (€2.8 billion) in humanitarian relief.

“Yes, I do,” Mr McCaul said. “Time is of the essence. The next two to three weeks are going to be very pivotal and very decisive in this war. And I don’t think we have a lot of time to waste. I wish we had [Mr Biden’s request] a little bit sooner, but we have it now.”

Meanwhile, Bob Menendez, the Democratic New Jersey senator who chairs the upper chamber’s foreign relations committee, echoed Ms Pelosi’s pledge that the US would continue to support Ukraine financially.

Accelerating deliveries

“We will do what it takes to see Ukraine win because it’s not just about Ukraine, it’s about the international order,” he said on NBC’s Meet the Press.

"If Ukraine does not win, if [Russia's president Vladimir] Putin can ultimately not only succeed in the Donbas but then be emboldened to go further, if he strikes a country under our treaty obligations with Nato, then we would be directly engaged.

Ukraine’s western allies are accelerating deliveries of heavy weapons to help it resist Russia’s onslaught in the east, and Mr Biden’s request to Congress for $33 billion in new funding for Kyiv mostly focuses on military aid.

Heavy exchanges of shelling continued over the weekend along the front line in Donbas and to the north in Kharkiv region, and several Russian missiles hit the airport in the Black Sea city of Odesa on Saturday, causing no casualties but doing severe damage to the runway.

Thousands of civilians have been killed and more than 10 million displaced in Russia's war on Ukraine, which Pope Francis described on Sunday as a "macabre regression of humanity".

He told worshippers in St Peter’s Square that Mariupol, which is named after the Virgin Mary, had been “barbarously bombarded and destroyed” and decried “the suffering of the Ukrainian population, in particular the weakest, the elderly, the children”.

Meanwhile, Brussels is drawing up plans for a new round of emergency lending to Ukraine as it seeks to contribute to efforts by allies to plug a yawning government financing gap running to billions of euro a month.

Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission executive vice-president in charge of economic policy, said EU officials were looking both to accelerate a payment of €600 million under the bloc's existing emergency support plan and to bring forward a new round of lending.

This could be achieved either by topping up the funding or extending a fresh emergency loan, he said. “We are currently assessing both options,” Mr Dombrovskis told the Financial Times in an interview. “The aim is of course to really bridge this financing gap.”

Immediate support

Ukraine’s finance minister last month appealed for immediate financial support of tens of billions of dollars to plug a fiscal deficit caused by Russia’s invasion of the country. Sergii Marchenko said government spending would exceed revenues by between $5 billion (€4.7 billion) and $7 billion (€6.6 billion) a month as the war continues.

Kristalina Georgieva, the IMF’s managing director, subsequently estimated that Ukraine will need $15 billion (€14.2 billion) over three months to prop up its finances.

Mr Marchenko said the response from foreign governments and multilateral institutions to its appeals for assistance had been positive but the commitments made were far smaller than Ukraine’s needs.

The IMF, World Bank, US, UK and other donors “agreed on our estimation of our needs”, he said. “Now it is time to fill the glass.”

The EU earlier this year agreed on a €1.2 billion emergency package of so-called macro-financial assistance to Ukraine, on top of its regular support for the country.

– Guardian

Additional reporting: Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2022 and Daniel McLaughlin