☷Background Press Call by Senior Administration Officials on the Ukraine Supplemental Budget Request
White House ( By Press Release office)
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Via Teleconference9:35 A . M . EDTMR . HASAN: Good morning , everyone . This is Abdullah from OMB . Thanks for joining us on this call to discuss the Ukraine supplemental budget request . As a reminder , this call is on background , attributable to “administration officials , ” and embargoed until 10:30 a . m . today . For your awareness , but not for reporting purposes , joining us on the call today are [senior administration officials] and [senior administration official] . We also have additional officials available to answer questions as needed . I will , however , just note at the top that , unfortunately , we do have a hard stop at 9:45 . So we may not have a lot of time to get through questions , but we will try to get to as many as we can . With that , I will turn it over to our first administration official . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks , everybody , for joining . From before this conflict began , we have laid out and now implemented a three - part strategy:We have imposed powerful sanctions and unprecedented export controls on Russia . We have bolstered NATO’s force posture on the eastern flank . And we have provided robust military and other assistance to Ukraine as it sought to defend its territory from an outrageous and unlawful Russian attack . To meet this responsibility , over the course of the last two months , Congress appropriated and the President allocated roughly $14 billion in funding for security , humanitarian , and economic support that has allowed the United States to respond to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine at a scope , scale , and speed that has never been seen before . Despite having no boots on the ground , our assistance has made a significant difference on the battlefield , helping the brave citizens of Ukraine to win the Battle of Kyiv and to continue to deplete the Russian military . These funds have also helped us to reinforce the eastern flank of NATO , maintain the unity of the Alliance in the face of Russian efforts to divide us , impose severe consequences on Russia and its enablers , and collect and provide intelligence so that our allies and partners have awareness of Russian intention . As you know , the conflict has now entered a different phase , and one that is no less dangerous , as Russia shifts the focus of its assault to Ukraine’s south and east . As we have said , this fight could well last months or more . This conflict will continue to test our unity and our collective resolve to provide Ukraine what it needs to succeed . Thanks to the generosity of Americans and the leadership of President Biden , the United States has delivered , making us by far the largest supporter of Ukraine . The American people should be proud of that , but America and our allies must continue to deliver . Today , the President will speak about the critical resources required for the United States to maintain our high level of assistance over the months to come . The President’s funding request is what we believe is needed to enable Ukraine’s success over the next five months of this war . And we have every expectation that our partners and allies , particularly those of the G7 , as well as many other countries , will continue to provide comparable levels of assistance going forward so that each of us is doing our part . My colleague will go over the specific assistance in the request with you next . The assistance includes funds that will allow us to ensure Ukraine has the weapons it needs to wage this fight , replenish our own stockpiles of key systems , help other countries to shift away from a dependence on Russian weapons , enable Ukraine’s government to continue performing basic functions , address food insecurity exacerbated by Russia’s war of aggression , and support Ukrainian refugees and the countries that are providing them sanctuary . Also , as part of our effort to continue supporting Ukraine , President Biden will send a proposal for a comprehensive legislative package to make it easier to seize the assets of Russian oligarchs and elites , expand assets subject to seizure , and enable the proceeds to flow to Ukraine . We look forward to working with Congress on this . And as you know , the United States has already been working with Allies and partners to track down assets all over the world . For example , Treasury has sanctioned and blocked vessels and aircraft worth over a billion dollars , as well as frozen hundreds of millions of dollars of assets belonging to Russian elites in U . S . bank accounts . And earlier this month , the Department of Justice announced that Spain seized a 255 - foot , $90 million yacht of sanctioned Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg at the request of the United States . This war will not end easily or rapidly , but the free world is united against this brutal invasion and we must continue to be in the best position possible to respond to a variety of scenarios . President Biden will call on Congress to keep this up . Thanks . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: So , thanks , [senior administration official] . And good morning , everyone . Let me quickly walk through the three key areas of this $33 billion supplemental request . So , first , we’re calling on Congress to provide over $20 billion in military and other security assistance to keep weapons and ammunition flowing to the Ukrainian people . And this includes $5 billion in additional drawdown authority , $6 billion for the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative , and $4 billion for the State Department’s Foreign Military Financing program . Second , we’re calling on Congress to provide an additional $8 . 5 billion in economic assistance to help the government of Ukraine respond to the immediate crisis and continue to provide basic services to the Ukrainian people . And third , we’re seeking — this provides $3 billion in additional humanitarian assistance and food security funding . And these resources will provide wheat and other commodities to people in need , build countries’ resilience to the global food supply and price shock , and provide lifesaving aid to displaced people — people displaced by Putin’s war in Ukraine . Finally , I want to highlight that this request also includes targeted funding to address economic disruptions at home and around the world due to Putin’s aggression . And that includes helping increase U . S . production of food crops , such as wheat and soybeans , and funding to allow the use of the Defense Production Act to expand domestic production of critical reserves — of reserves of critical minerals and materials that have been disrupted by Putin’s war and are necessary to make everything from defense systems to cars . So let me just close there . Can we have time for questions And I just want to say that continued bipartisan support in Congress is vital to ensuring the Ukrainian people have the resources they need to win this war , and the administration is committed to working with lawmakers in both parties and our global allies and partners to keep that aid flowing to Ukraine uninterrupted . So let me hand it back to Abdullah . MR . HASAN: Thank you . And we will be ready to take questions now , Moderator . But just a heads up for reporters who will ask , “Where is the factsheet ”: Don’t waste your question on that . It’s coming to you shortly after this call . But with that , let’s go ahead and take questions . Q Hey , guys , thank you . Can you drill down on the seizing of Russian assets As , of course , you know , there’s some concerns about due process on this , and the House bill had to be watered down . Do you think you are able to , today , seize ill - gotten gains and transfer them to Ukraine And a bit of a strategic question on the war: Do you think — in terms of the $20 billion they’re using for the weapons and requests from Europe to backfill that — that this is an opportunity for Eastern European countries to get more advanced weapons and indeed for Ukraine to get more integrated into Western and NATO weapons systems Thanks . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Thanks . I’ll answer the second question , and then I’ll turn it over to a colleague to answer the first question . So , on sort of how the $20 billion will be used in the ways that you describe: You know , we have said from the beginning that while Russia had every intention of weakening and dividing the NATO Alliance , we fully expect and are using every resource we have available to us to do exactly the opposite . And we’re already seeing that outcome . The Alliance is far more unified , we believe , than it has been at any time in recent memory . And Alliance members are fully committed to this fight , contributing directly , nearly all of them , to Ukraine’s efforts to defend its country , including through the provision of security assistance . That does deplete some of these countries’ supplies . We are discussing with them various ways in which we can help make sure that they are — continue to be able to defend themselves fully . And some of this funding will go toward that effort . And we’ll have more to say about it as this fight goes on . I’ll turn it now over to my colleague on the first question . SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Yeah , I guess I’ll start with the end of the question . The Department of Justice has authorities today that allow it to seize assets that are involved in certain criminal wrongdoing . And they’ve exercised that authority to seize assets of Russian oligarchs , including the yacht that [senior administration official] referred to earlier in his opening comments . But what we’re seeking today is an expanded and expedited administrative process that would allow for the forfeiture of property that would be conducted within the Department of the Treasury . We worked closely with DOJ to ensure that that process affords people who have an interest in the property the opportunity to raise their interest and including seeking judicial review , and also that the property seized has a nexus to criminal conduct . That with those safeguards , you know , we feel confident that it satisfies the constitutional requirements . MR . HASAN: Great , let’s try to squeeze in one more question real quick . Q Hi , guys . Thanks for doing this . My question is how you would like Congress to try to move this package . Do you have any preference of whether this moves with a COVID relief package that I guess is still TBD or if it would move on its own SENIOR ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Hi , this is [senior administration official] . I’m the [redacted] at the Office of Management and Budget . I’m going to say , you know , you’ll see — you’ll hear the President later today talk about this . And , you know , we’re — he’ll call for Congress to act on the supplemental request that he sent up earlier on COVID , and it certainly makes sense for them to move together . But you’ll hear a strong call for Congress to certainly take that up — take that COVID money back up . But we’re not going to get too far ahead of the legislative process . MR . HASAN: All right . We will end it there . Thank you all for joining . I’m going to go ahead and send some embargoed materials over now so you have those . As a reminder , this call was embargoed and attributable to “administration officials” on background , embargoed until 10:30 a . m . today . Thanks , everyone , for joining . 9:45 A . M . EDT
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