Lodi News-Sentinel

Biden asks Congress for $33B in Ukraine aid, power to seize Russian oligarchs’ assets

- Eli Stokols

WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden asked Congress on Thursday for another $33 billion to support Ukraine in its defense from Russia’s invasion and for the authority to make it easier to seize and sell the assets of Russian oligarchs, vowing anew that the U.S. was committed to ensuring Ukraine’s victory in a war likely to drag on for months.

The funding request — which earmarks $20 billion for military assistance, $8.5 billion in economic assistance to help Ukraine’s government continue to function and $3 billion in humanitari­an aid — is what the U.S. believes will be necessary over the next five months as the war becomes a protracted conflict.

“We need this bill to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” Biden said during a speech from the White House. “The cost of this fight is not cheap, but caving to aggression is more costly.”

Biden also wants lawmakers to make it a crime for a person to “knowingly or intentiona­lly possess proceeds directly obtained from corrupt dealings with the Russian government,” double the statute of limitation­s for foreign money laundering offenses to 10 years, and expand the definition of racketeeri­ng under U.S. law to include efforts to evade sanctions.

“These are bad guys,” Biden said.

The president asked Congress to allow the federal government to use the proceeds from selling the seized assets of sanctioned Russian oligarchs to help the people of Ukraine. That proposal was already gaining bipartisan support in Congress, with Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., introducin­g legislatio­n Tuesday that would allow the Justice Department to liquidate confiscate­d assets and direct the funding toward a new State Department relief fund for Ukraine.

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