U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen reiterated in a video call with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Jan. 23 that the Biden administration is committed to securing $11.8 billion in direct budget support to Ukraine as part of the national security supplemental request before Congress.
Yellen underscored the importance of Congress acting on financial support as quickly as possible, the Treasury Department said.
There has been increasing uncertainty about Western support for Ukraine as over $100 billion in U.S. and EU military and financial aid remain stalled by domestic political turmoil.
Secretary Yellen reaffirmed the U.S. "unwavering support to Ukraine in its defense against Putin’s brutal invasion." She also recognized Ukraine’s "successful IMF review in December and the effective work of Ukrainian authorities in managing Ukraine’s economy and progress on reforms."
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian prime minister said that during the virtual meeting with Yellen, they also discussed the issue of confiscating Russian assets and using them to support Ukraine.
"We already have the first such decision from the United States. I am grateful to the United States and Ms. Yellen personally for their leadership in promoting this initiative among the G7 (the Group of Seven) countries. We are making joint efforts to make the aggressor pay," Shmyhal said.
A draft law on confiscating assets for Ukraine’s recovery, The Asset Seizure for Ukraine Reconstruction Act, was introduced in the U.S. Congress in late November.
The White House reportedly backs confiscating Russian assets but seeks to align its position with other G7 allies, namely the EU, where around two-thirds of Russian frozen assets are held. In comparison, only around $5 billion are held in U.S. institutions.
The decision to confiscate frozen Russian assets must be taken collectively and is unlikely to happen quickly, U.S. Special Representative for Economic Recovery in Ukraine Penny Pritzker said during the World Economic Forum on Jan. 15.
U.S. President Joe Biden signed the last U.S. $250 million aid package for Ukraine on Dec. 27, including ammunition for anti-aircraft warfare, multiple launch rocket systems, artillery, anti-tank mines, and others.
Before that, a supplemental funding bill, including $61 billion in aid for Ukraine, had been blocked due to disputes in Congress, stalling further financial support for Kyiv.
Biden reportedly made concessions on immigration policy to Senate Republicans to secure backing for Ukraine aid.
U.S. lawmakers said on Jan. 23 that a deal on border security in return for Republican votes to send nearly $60 billion in aid to Ukraine is nearing completion but likely will not be announced this week.