- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 30, 2022

The Biden administration on Wednesday announced it would provide $500 million in direct aid to Ukraine to boost the war-ravaged country’s struggling economy.

The White House did not offer details about what Ukraine could do with the funds but described it as “direct budgetary aid.” That is a form of aid that one government provides to another to help with national priorities.

Typically, direct budgetary aid goes to pay the salaries of officials, military officers, and other needs.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine began last month, the U.S. has provided more than $2 billion in aid. That total doesn’t include the $800 million in military assistance the Biden administration approved last week.

White House Communications Director Kate Bedingfield said the additional $500 million is new funding separate from the $2 billion the U.S. has already allocated.

She said the White House is working on where the money will come from, adding that Ukraine could use it for “budgetary expenses such as paying salaries and maintaining government services.”

The Senate has approved $13.6 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine. The U.S. has also provided anti-tank and anti-plane weapons along with other small arms to defend itself against Russia. 

President Biden told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy about the aid during their roughly one-hour phone call Wednesday.

The leaders discussed Ukraine’s security assistance requests and additional ways the U.S. can help the nation’s military fend off Russian invaders, according to the White House.

After the call, Mr. Zelenskyy tweeted that he and Mr. Biden “shared assessment of the situation on the battlefield and at the negotiating table.” He said they also talked about a new package of “enhanced sanctions” on Russia and humanitarian aid.

Earlier Wednesday, Mr. Zelenskyy called for weapons in an address to Norway’s Parliament. He also asked for European countries to close their seaports to Russian vessels.

“All weapons you can help us with will be used only to protect our freedom, your freedom,” Mr. Zelenskyy told Norwegian lawmakers. 

SEE ALSO: Biden to speak with Zelenskyy amid Ukrainian leader’s call for more weapons

Russian and Ukraine delegates on Wednesday huddled in Turkey for peace talks.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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