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Story Publication logo April 29, 2022

Bracing for a Prolonged War, Biden Asks Congress To Fund $33 Billion in Aid for Ukraine


Ukraine refugees flee to Hungary

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President Biden on Thursday unveiled a $33 billion aid proposal for Ukraine, the latest effort to assist in the war against Russia. About two-thirds would go to military assistance, and the rest for economic and humanitarian help. Meanwhile, as the war rages on, the U.N. secretary general this week met with the leaders of Russia and Ukraine. Nick Schifrin reports.

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Judy Woodruff: President Biden announced a new 30-plus-billion-dollar proposal to help Ukraine today, as Congress passed a bill that would make it easier to send weapons to Ukraine and NATO allies. About two-thirds of the Biden request is for military assistance. The rest is for economic and humanitarian aid.

As the war rages on, the United Nations secretary-general is on a week of shuttle diplomacy. He met on Tuesday with Russia's President Vladimir Putin. And today, in Kyiv, he met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, a meeting punctuated by Russian missile strikes.

Nick Schifrin again begins our coverage.

Nick Schifrin: All that's left of Ukraine's defense of Mariupol under fire and underground. For those forced to hide for weeks, it is terrifying.

This was a makeshift hospital inside their final holdout, the Azovstal steelworks. From a secret location, a Ukrainian commander vowed to fight until the end.

Sviatoslav Palamar, Deputy Commander, Azov Regiment (through translator): The tactic now is like a medieval siege. We're encircled. They're no longer throwing lots of force to break our defensive line. They're conducting airstrikes.

Nick Schifrin: New satellite images show Putin's apparent plan, not to storm the plant, but to flatten it.

Russian-backed separatists control the city center, where the bodies of Ukrainians they killed lie in stacks. Local officials today warned of outbreaks of disease. And a senior U.S. defense official said today Russian forces are leaving the city, as Russia makes — quote — "slow progress" for their goal of the eastern Donbass and Russian forces launch new attacks along a strategic front-line highway from Kharkiv to Izyum, including Slovyansk and Donetsk.

In nearby Lyman, Ukrainian soldiers fear a new ground invasion. The town's already suffered airstrikes that have blown out people's homes. The strikes continue.

Elena marks "Civilian" on her fence, hoping it saves her.

Elena, Lyman Resident (through translator): There is no electricity. We live in the basement and cook food over campfire. We don't have a place to go.

Nick Schifrin: Nearby, a strike hit a railway warehouse. It's part of Russia's campaign to target the delivery of Western weapons.

Today, President Biden press Congress to deliver Ukraine more weapons.

President Joe Biden: So, we need to contribute arms, funding, ammunition, and the economic support to make their courage and sacrifice have purpose, so they can continue this fight and do what they're doing.

Nick Schifrin: The $33 billion is more than five times Ukraine's annual military budget and would include $20.4 billion in weapons, $8.5 billion in economic assistance, and $3 billion in humanitarian assistance.

President Joe Biden: Russia's continued assault on — is yielding immense human costs. We've seen — we've seen them leave behind horrifying evidence of their atrocities and war crimes.

Nick Schifrin: And that is what U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres witnessed today. He toured Borodyanka and Bucha, what he called the epicenter of unbearable heartbreak and pain, and envisioned his own family as victims of terror.

Antonio Guterres, United Nations Secretary-General: What I feel, I imagine my family in one of those houses that is now destroyed and black. I see my granddaughters running away in panic, part of the family eventually killed. So, the war is an absurdity in the 21st century.

Nick Schifrin: Guterres walked through the secure middle of Kyiv to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and pledged more U.N. assistance.

As they met, multiple missiles struck a residential building in central Kyiv and blew out windows across a city block. Guterres warned that, by the end of the year, 25 million Ukrainians, more than half the country, would be in need of humanitarian assistance.

President Biden today also announced the administration was looking at ways to convert assets seized from wealthy Russians associated with Vladimir Putin and use them to help Ukraine arm and rebuild.


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