Business news from Ukraine

Biden signs bill to provide aid to Ukraine and Israel – New York Times article

The $95.3 billion bill was passed after months of congressional gridlock jeopardized a major thrust of President Biden’s foreign policy.

President Biden was set to sign a $95.3 billion aid package for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan on Wednesday, reaffirming U.S. support for Kyiv in its fight against Russia’s military attack after months of congressional gridlock threatened the White House’s main foreign policy thrust.

On Tuesday evening, the Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the package, a sign of bipartisan support after growing policy divisions raised questions on Capitol Hill and among U.S. allies about whether the United States would continue to support Kyiv. The 79 to 18 vote gave Biden another legislative achievement to boast about, even in the face of an obstructionist House of Representatives.

“Congress passed my bill to strengthen our national security and send a message to the world about the strength of American leadership: We stand firmly for democracy and freedom, against tyranny and oppression,” Mr. Biden said Tuesday night, just minutes after the Senate vote.

He said he would sign the bill into law and address the American people on Wednesday “so we can start sending weapons and equipment to Ukraine this week.”

The White House first requested the security package in October, and officials explicitly acknowledged that the six-month delay has put Ukraine at a disadvantage in its fight against Russia.

“The Russians are slowly but successfully taking more and more territory from the Ukrainians and pushing them to the first, second, and sometimes third line of defense,” John F. Kirby, spokesman for President Biden’s National Security Council, said on Air Force One on Tuesday. “The short answer is yes, there has been damage done over the last several months.”

Nevertheless, the passage of the legislation ended an extraordinary period in Washington. Speaker Mike Johnson had to overcome fierce right-wing opposition to get it through the House of Representatives. The aid is split into four parts: one measure for each of the three US allies and another designed to sweeten the deal for conservatives, which includes a provision that could lead to a nationwide ban on TikTok.

The bill includes $60.8 billion for Ukraine; $26.4 billion for Israel and humanitarian aid to civilians in conflict zones, including Gaza; and $8.1 billion for the Indo-Pacific. It also includes sanctions against Iranian and Russian officials.

The House of Representatives also added a provision requiring the president to demand that the Ukrainian government repay $10 billion. The idea to include a portion of the aid to Ukraine in the form of a loan was another example of former President Donald Trump’s influence on Congress. Trump called for making any future aid to Ukraine a loan.

The White House tried to reach an agreement with Mr. Johnson in various ways for six months. Officials even agreed to some tougher measures at the US border when Mr. Johnson said he would not allow aid to Ukraine without border restrictions. But when Trump denounced the law, hoping to prevent Biden from winning the election, Republicans followed suit.

But when the Senate passed its own bill to provide $95 billion in emergency aid to Ukraine, Israel, and Taiwan without any immigration measures, it increased the pressure on Mr. Johnson.

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President of Ukraine plans to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden online in near future

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy plans to meet with U.S. President Joe Biden online in the near future. The Head of State told Inter TV journalists on the sidelines of the Munich Conference on Saturday, February 17.

“We will be in constant contact with Biden, we have agreed on this. I won’t tell you some details, but I think we will meet online in the framework of the G7 meeting in the near future,” the president said.

He noted that he was in constant contact with the United States at various levels, with the White House and with congressmen.

Zelenskyy also emphasized that during a telephone conversation with the American president on February 17, he assured him that he would support Ukraine and do everything to ensure a positive outcome.

“I am confident that the United States will remain our strategic partner,” the head of state said.

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Biden signs US defense budget

US President Joe Biden has signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which provides a record $886 billion for defense needs in fiscal year 2024, the White House said in a statement on Friday, December 22.
“The law authorizes appropriations for the fiscal year primarily for the Department of Defense, national security programs of the Department of Energy, the Department of State, and the intelligence community. The law provides the critical authority we need to build the armed forces needed to deter future conflicts, and supports the service members, their spouses and families who carry out this mission every day,” the statement said.
As reported, on December 14, the US Senate approved a $886 billion defense bill, according to which a new position of special inspector general is to be created to monitor the use of military aid by Ukraine.
It was also reported that the Senate version of the budget included $300 million for Ukraine.

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Joe Biden approves new $200 mln military aid to Kyiv

U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he had approved another $200 million military aid package for Ukraine.

“I just signed a document allocating $200 million for Ukraine’s defense,” Biden said at a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House.

He added that this aid package would be promptly sent to Kyiv.

The US president did not specify what exactly would be included in this tranche of aid.

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Biden to meet with Zelensky in Vilnius

US Presidential National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has said that US President Joe Biden will meet Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Wednesday at the NATO summit in Vilnius.
“The President (Biden-IF-U) will have an opportunity to meet with President Zelensky tomorrow and discuss how the United States her partners are prepared in the long term to help Ukraine defend itself now and beyond,” Sullivan said at a briefing on Tuesday.

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Zelensky and Biden had one-on-one talk in Kiev

Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky and U.S. President Joseph Biden will discuss the course of hostilities and further measures aimed at supporting Ukraine during a meeting in Kiev on Monday, February 20, the press service of the Office of the President reported.
As specified, Zelensky met with Biden at the Mariinsky Palace. After introducing the members of the Ukrainian and American delegations, the presidents of Ukraine and the United States talked in a face-to-face format.
Zelensky noted that Biden’s visit was an extremely important signal of support for Ukraine and Ukrainians, and stressed that Biden personally and the entire American society have been with Ukraine since the beginning of the full-scale war unleashed by Russia.
“The first phone call of support for Ukraine was from the White House. Thank you for your leadership. Thank you also for the bipartisan support, for the support from Congress,” he said.
The president of Ukraine said he would talk to the U.S. president about the situation on the front lines and also about the Ukrainian people, who are going through a very difficult time.
“What we have to do to stop the war, to have success in this war, to make Ukraine even stronger and how to win this year,” he said.
For his part, Biden noted the importance of his presence in Ukraine today, which demonstrates U.S. support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“I think it would be critical to leave no doubt that the U.S. supports Ukraine in its war against brutal aggression,” he said.
The U.S. president described his intention to discuss how the United States and allies can effectively help Ukraine fight for freedom and independence. He also conveyed greetings from members of Congress. According to Biden, they were very impressed by Zelensky’s recent speech to Congress.
He also said he was glad to visit Kiev again.
“A lot has changed since the last trip. Terrible things have happened, the invasion, but at the same time, the Ukrainians have shown themselves in a way that very few nations have ever shown themselves in their defense. And they helped us understand the importance of democracy,” Biden stressed.

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