On Wednesday, March 16, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy gave an impassioned address to the U.S. Congress about the dire situation facing his country. In his speech, Zelenskyy called on President Biden, Congress and governments around the world for continued assistance by providing arms, financial support and continued sanctions against Russian companies and its leaders. His powerful address continues to reverberate through Washington, D.C. and is being heard on both sides of the aisle.
On Thursday, March 17, Biden announced an additional $800 million in security assistance. The announcement includes significant military equipment – anti-aircraft and anti-armor systems, small arms as well as drones; however, does not include a promise to enforce a no-fly zone over the country – which Zelenskyy had requested. Biden did pledge continued assistance – both in terms of military supplies and humanitarian aid given the destruction taking place across the country.
The House Financial Services Committee also conducted a mark-up of five bills on Thursday, aimed at providing relief to Ukraine while continuing to punish Russia and its allies. The bills were moved with bi-partisan support and could be considered by the full U.S. House of Representatives shortly.
Finally, the full House also acted on Thursday, considering legislation to end permanent normalized trade relations with Russia and Belarus. The legislation passed under ‘suspension of the rules,’ which requires a two-thirds majority, and demonstrates the broad support for Ukraine and Zelenskyy.
In the meantime, actions on the ground in Ukraine will continue to dictate the urgency with which Congress and the Biden administration act.