Home Economy News Yellen calls Republican delays in approving Ukraine aid inexcusable

Yellen calls Republican delays in approving Ukraine aid inexcusable


By Andrea Shalal and David Lawder

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen on Wednesday underscored the Biden administration’s commitment to provide Ukraine with the budgetary and military assistance it needs, while calling Republican delays in approving the aid inexcusable.

Yellen made the comments after meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko. Their meeting followed a Ukraine conference held on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings.

She said the officials discussed their shared priorities, including global financial support for Ukraine, Ukraine’s reform progress, and Russia’s obligation to pay for the damages of its war of aggression.

“Budgetary assistance from the United States is more critical than ever, as it is inextricably linked to Ukraine’s success on the battlefield and the government’s ability to deliver essential services to its people,” Yellen said.

She said Washington and its allies have provided significant support to Ukraine since Russia’s invasion in February 2022, with extensive controls and safeguards in place to ensure the money reached the right people and was being used appropriately.

Yellen said that the United States completed an agreement with the World Bank to contribute $255 million to World Bank trust funds to support Ukraine’s critical export transportation needs and fuel private sector investment.

She hailed the U.S. Senate for passing additional funding for Ukraine on a bipartisan basis and said the failure of Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to act so long “has been inexcusable and detrimental to our national security.”

“Every moment of delay by House Republicans strengthens (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and emboldens America’s adversaries around the world who are closely watching to see if … the United States, maintains its resolve to support a democratic Ukraine as it fends off an autocratic Russia,” she added.

U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson said he would hold a long-awaited vote on a $95 billion Ukraine-Israel aid bill, including $60.84 billion for Ukraine, as early as Saturday.

Finance officials from the Group of Seven advanced economies pledged in a joint statement to continue working on “all possible avenues” to harness the value of frozen Russian sovereign assets to aid Ukraine.

Shmyhal underscored the urgency of the U.S. aid in remarks after the meeting, saying Russia was determined to undermine Ukraine’s economy with attacks on infrastructure, including its power grid, ports, farms and factories.

“There is a risk of even greater destruction. If Russia destroys Ukraine’s economy, it will cripple the Ukrainian state to the point where it cannot defend itself on the battlefield,” Shmyhal said.

He said Ukraine was ready to work with all parties including the World Bank to ensure the transparency of U.S. aid and was aiming for “zero tolerance” of any potential misuse.

Yellen lauded Ukrainian officials for maintaining economic stability and implementing ambitious reforms under what she called incredibly difficult circumstances. Finance officials echoed that sentiment during the closed-door Ukraine meeting, sources familiar with the matter said.

Yellen said Washington and its allies needed to remain vigilant to block Russia’s ability to acquire the goods and resources it needed to continue its war, and said the coalition would keep raising costs on Russia through sanctions, while working to clamp down on evasion networks around the world.

Shmyhal agreed that the U.S. and its allies needed to strengthen sanctions aimed at reducing Russia’s ability to wage war, adding: “specifically, it is necessary to completely block the supply of Western technologies to the Russian military industrial complex.”

He also called for sanctions against the entire Russian banking sector and Russia’s nuclear sector.

Shmyhal said he also expected the U.S. Congress to pass the “Repo Act,” which would grant the Biden administration the authority to confiscate frozen Russian assets to support Ukraine.

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