US lawmakers were set to vote Tuesday on a $40 billion aid package for Ukraine as Washington warned Russia was likely girding for a long conflict with its neighbor.
The defense, humanitarian, and economic funding should pass comfortably, with the two parties having reached an agreement on the details, and it will likely move quickly through Congress.
“Time is of the essence — and we cannot afford to wait,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in a letter to her Democratic colleagues.
“With this aid package, America sends a resounding message to the world of our unwavering determination to stand with the courageous people of Ukraine until victory is won.
Congressional leaders struck a deal Monday to release $6.8 billion more than the $33 billion previously requested by the White House to help the Eastern European nation ward off Moscow’s invasion.
The financial boost would include an extra $3.4 billion for both military and humanitarian assistance on top of the funding requested by the administration.
If the package passes as planned, US spending to bolster Ukraine’s defenses against Russia’s invasion and address the ensuing humanitarian crisis will soar to around $54 billion.
The action comes as a top US official warned that Russian President Vladimir Putin is preparing for a long war that may not end with Russian victory in the east.
“We assess President Putin is preparing for prolonged conflict in Ukraine during which he still intends to achieve goals beyond the Donbas,” Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines said at a hearing on Capitol Hill.
She added that Putin was counting on US and EU resolve to weaken as the conflict continues to cause food shortages and inflation, including spiraling energy prices.
State Sponsor of Terrorism
Two senators — Republican Lindsey Graham and Democrat Richard Blumenthal — unveiled a resolution Tuesday calling on Secretary of State Antony Blinken to designate Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.
“If there is anybody who embodies terrorism, totalitarianism, and torture, it is Vladimir Putin,” Blumenthal said at a news conference.
The White House has so far resisted calls to add Russia to the list, which currently features Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria, as Russia is already facing many of the consequences a terror sponsor designation would bring.
Graham said however the label would make clear how strongly the United States supports Ukraine in its effort to repel the Russian invasion.