(Updated throughout with statements, clarifications)
WASHINGTON, April 28 (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden on Thursday asked Congress to release $33 billion (31.4 billion euros) for Ukraine, an unprecedented increase in aid by the United States in Kyiv in the war against Russia, and to establish legal means to recover the assets of Russian oligarchs.
This envelope includes more than 20 billion dollars in military aid (arms, ammunition and training), 8.5 billion dollars in direct economic aid as well as 3 billion dollars in humanitarian and food aid.
“We need this measure to support Ukraine in its fight for freedom,” Joe Biden said from the White House after signing the petition sent to Congress, adding that the cost of this battle was high but that “giving to aggression would be much more costly”.
The United States refuses to send American or NATO soldiers to the front. However, they, together with their European allies, are supplying an increasing number of weapons to Kyiv, including drones, heavy artillery, anti-aircraft missiles and anti-tank missiles.
Joe Biden also intends to finance the war and reparation effort with the money of Russian oligarchs targeted by American sanctions.
According to the White House, the federal administration will be able to seize more assets from Russian oligarchs, channel these funds to Ukraine and further enforce US sanctions, once Joe Biden’s request is approved by Congress .
The United States has already provided more than $3 billion in military aid to the authorities in Kyiv to help them repel the attack launched by Russia on February 24, which Moscow presents as a “special military operation” aimed at demilitarizing and “denazify” Ukraine. Kyiv and Westerners denounce an “invasion”.
Washington and its European allies meanwhile froze about $30 billion in assets of Russian oligarchs linked to President Vladimir Putin, including properties, yachts, helicopters and works of art.
(Reporting Trevor Hunnicutt and Steve Holland, with Patricia Zengerle; French version Tangi Salaün and Jean Terzian, editing by Bertrand Boucey)