US plans to provide extra $9.9Bln in support to Ukraine
The United States is once again expanding the aid being sent to Ukraine as the latter asks for more despite growing dissatisfaction from Americans.
The United States expects to provide an additional $9.9 billion in budget support to Ukraine, said Wednesday Dafna Rand, the director of the Office of Foreign Assistance at the State Department.
"The US has provided $13 billion in budget support to the Government of Ukraine, and working with Congress in the coming months, we plan on providing $9.9 billion," Rand told a press briefing.
"[W]e remain committed to working with the Government of Ukraine to maintain its operational capacity and to provide additional budget support as necessary," Rand added.
This comes despite a new poll showing that many Americans were growing impatient with the US government's support of Ukraine.
According to a recent poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, support among the American public for giving Ukraine weapons and direct economic assistance has waned as the war approaches its one-year mark.
48% support the United States giving arms to Ukraine, 29% oppose it, and 22% are neither in favor nor opposed, as per the poll. In May 2022, less than three months into the war, 60% of US adults supported sending weapons to Ukraine, it further showed.
Biden's handling of the war has mostly divided opinion along partisan lines. Among Democrats, 40% have high confidence in Biden to handle the crisis, 50% have some confidence, and 9% have none. A huge majority of Republicans (76%) believe they have little confidence. These figures have remained basically constant since last May.
The US President has agreed on sending light multiple rocket launchers known as HIMARS, Patriot missile systems, Bradley fighting vehicles, and Abrams tanks, among others. However, Biden continues to reject Ukraine's request for fighter jets.
Moreover, the official said the United States was assessing how to best utilize seized Russian assets in its effort to provide additional aid to Ukraine.
"We are trying to see what is the best use of this money. We've seized it, and it [the money] was used to fuel the war and the bellicosity. Now we want to return it to support the Ukrainian people in their time of need," Dafna Rand told a press briefing.
US Attorney General Merrick Garland said in early February that the US has approved for the State Department to use the assets of Russian businessman Konstantin Malofeyev seized in Ukraine.
The US took millions of dollars from Malofeyev's US bank account in June as a result of sanctions placed on the Russian businessman in April.
According to Garland, the US State Department will confiscate a total of $5.4 million to "help the people of Ukraine."
This sort of issue had been discussed numerous times in the West, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz saying the West using frozen Russian assets to help with Ukraine's reconstruction was a complex legal issue.
"It is a very difficult legal question. And so a lot of work has to be done All of us will have to go through these questions; what is feasible, what is not feasible if you are sticking to the rule of law?" Scholz said, highlighting that Brussels was working on trying to understand the issue at hand.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, on the other hand, said Brussels was already working on the issue and had already created a special group that was mulling the possibility of using Russian assets to provide assistance to Ukraine.
"We have created a task force with experts from Member States and international experts, which is called 'Seize and Freeze Task Force,'" she said.
Russian Security Council Deputy Secretary Alexander Venediktov deemed in June the freezing of Russian assets to be one of the "greatest thefts in history."