US sends ‘billions’ to fund Ukrainian government operations – Eurasia Review

By Natalie Liu

Since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, discussions of support for Kyiv have largely focused on arms and ammunition. But Washington is also sending large sums of money to fund Ukrainian government operations, U.S. officials said this week, as U.S. and European officials affirmed their support for Ukraine’s reconstruction, following the the conclusion of the recent Lugano conference.

The United States is “proud to be Ukraine’s largest donor country” and will provide “billions more in aid” in the coming months, said Karen Donfried, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs and Eurasians, at an event in Washington. Thursday. These sums include “billions of needed direct budget support“, she said.

Washington has provided $2.3 billion in direct budget support to the Ukrainian government since Moscow launched its attack, a State Department official told VOA, adding that the aid is channeled through the Bank’s mechanisms. world. Kyiv received “two tranches of $500 million each on April 29 and May 20, and $1.3 billion on June 29,” the representative said.

The Ukrainian government uses the money to pay government salaries, meet pension obligations, maintain hospitals and schools and protect critical infrastructure, the State Department official said.

The Biden administration intends to work with Congress to provide Kyiv with an additional $6.2 billion in direct budget support over the next five months, drawing on funds set aside in the second bill. supplement signed by President Joe Biden on May 21, the representative told VOA.

In addition, the administration is devoting approximately $1 billion from the first and second Ukrainian Supplementary Votes to support the continuity of Ukrainian government operations at the national, regional and local levels, support for the health sector, agricultural production, society civil, programs keeping Russia and its forces accountable for their actions in Ukraine.

Thursday’s event where Donfried spoke was co-hosted by the embassies of Switzerland and Ukraine in Washington, marking the conclusion of the Lugano conference, co-hosted by Switzerland and Ukraine on 4 and 5 July in the city in southern Switzerland. The conference focused on the reconstruction of Ukraine and attracted nearly 60 official delegations, as well as representatives from the private sector and civil society.

Jacques Pitteloud, Switzerland’s ambassador to the United States, shared with the audience gathered at Ukraine House on Thursday that the ongoing state of war has left some wondering if now is the time to talk about reconstruction.

“At the Lugano conference, there was a debate about whether to talk about recovery and reconstruction while the war is still raging; “Isn’t it premature to make recovery plans before the guns fall silent?”

The Swiss government’s answer to that question, Pitteloud said, is “a resounding no,” and he gave the reasons.

“First, recovery is a very long-term and complex undertaking, which requires proactive and far-sighted planning and a solid framework for the long term, starting this process now is the responsible thing to do,” Pitteloud said.

“Secondly, thanks to the heroic resistance of the Ukrainian defenders, the aggressor has in fact withdrawn from large parts of Ukraine; but these areas have been devastated and everything has to be rebuilt.

The lingering prospect of “aggression on Ukraine” also calls on Ukraine’s allies and partners to dig deeper and build the country’s comprehensive and enduring resilience, Pitteloud added.

Switzerland’s strong support for “reconstruction now” echoes Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s call for immediate support from the international community for the reconstruction of his country. Waiting for the war to end is a mistake, Zelenskyy said. The Ukrainian leader also presented the reconstruction of Ukraine as a parallel process to his country’s quest to become a full member of the European Union.

On July 1, Zelenskyy attended a ceremony where the EU flag was hoisted in the Ukrainian parliament alongside the Ukrainian flag, recalling both the nation’s aspirations and the tasks to achieve those aspirations , he said, urging Ukrainian officials at all levels to work tirelessly towards the goal of joining the EU.

The United States fully supports Ukraine’s European aspirations, Donfried said at Thursday’s event in Washington. While the challenges are great, “we have an opportunity to help lead the country towards the European future that Ukrainians want and deserve and are working so hard to achieve,” she said.

The EU’s top diplomat in Washington, Stavros Lambrinidis, who attended Thursday’s event with senior diplomats from EU member states, said the EU “has a direct responsibility and interest and immediate” in the reconstruction of Ukraine due to the country’s status as a candidate state.

The path to a strong Ukraine and the path to Ukraine’s integration into the European family are “one and the same”, he said.

Although Switzerland has so far chosen not to join the EU, Pitteloud, the Swiss ambassador, said his country was ready to help Ukraine achieve the goal of EU membership. EU, in an interview with VOA on the sidelines of the event.

EU member Spain doesn’t have ‘billions’ to spare but will do ‘what we can’ to support Ukraine, Santiago Cabanas, Madrid’s top diplomat in Washington, told VOA . “Because, as the EU Ambassador to the United States said, we see Ukraine as a member of the European family.”

Oksana Markarova, Ukraine’s top diplomat in Washington, said her compatriots had “inspired the world with the way we fight”. Then, she said, “we want to inspire the world with how we build [our country].”

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