Current funding for Ukraine should last year-round – Blinken
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken assured members of Congress on Thursday that the billions of dollars already approved for Ukraine would last through the year, stressing that steps had been taken to ensure the funds were well spent.
“We have 45 people at our embassy in Ukraine to oversee the spending of these funds,” Blinken told the House Appropriations Subcommittee during a hearing on the State Department’s budget request.
It was Blinken’s fourth hearing in two days after President Joe Biden’s administration called for an 11% increase in the department’s budget in its 2024 budget request.
A few Republican lawmakers have questioned the amount of money sent to Kyiv 13 months after the Russian invasion, given the yawning U.S. budget deficits and cuts to domestic programs.
Rep. Tim Burchett, a Republican member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, asked Blinken why U.S. money was being used for pensions in Ukraine when funding for the government’s health insurance program was being debated.
Some lawmakers worry that money is being lost to corruption and that other countries are not doing enough.
Blinken acknowledged the “generosity of the American taxpayer” but said the burden was shared by more than 50 countries.
The United States has pledged $32 billion in security aid to Ukraine, but other countries have pledged $22 billion. And Washington has provided about $15.5 billion in economic aid, while other countries have sent $24 billion. And Washington has sent $2 billion in humanitarian aid, but other countries have sent $3.5 billion, Blinken said.
“If we or our allies and partners pull the plug, it will have catastrophic consequences for Ukraine,” Blinken said.
“We have real burden sharing with regard to Ukraine,” he said, adding that European countries have taken in about 8 million refugees.
Congress passed a spending bill in December that includes $45 billion in new emergency aid for Ukraine.
Blinken declined to say when the government would ask the Senate and House for more money.
“The latest replenishment takes us through most of the year,” he said.
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