: White House’s $10 billion Ukraine-aid request would help fund ‘KleptoCapture’ task force targeting Russian oligarchs

The Biden administration is asking Congress for $10 billion to aid Ukraine amid the invasion by Russia, a request that includes $59 million for a new task force aimed at enforcing sanctions against Russian oligarchs.

The $10 billion aid request is part of a broader $32.5 billion package that the White House hopes Congress will approve. It also includes $22.5 billion to bolster the U.S. fight against COVID-19.

“This request identifies an immediate need for $10 billion in additional humanitarian, security, and economic assistance for Ukraine and Central European partners due to Russia’s unjustified and unprovoked invasion,” acting White House budget director Shalanda Young wrote to lawmakers.

Congress is currently wrangling over a long-term budget deal, and lawmakers are facing a March 11 deadline for agreement. The new request may be attached to that larger package.

Biden discussed the new task force in his State of the Union address on Tuesday, saying: “Tonight, I say to the Russian oligarchs and the corrupt leaders who’ve bilked billions of dollars off this violent regime: No more.”

Read: Biden says Putin’s war on Ukraine is making ‘Russia weaker and the rest of the world stronger’

Dubbed Task Force KleptoCapture, the new entity is “dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic countermeasures that the United States has imposed, along with allies and partners, in response to Russia’s unprovoked military invasion of Ukraine,” said Attorney General Merrick Garland in a statement on Wednesday.

“Task Force KleptoCapture will ensure the full effect of these actions, which have been designed to isolate Russia from global markets and impose serious costs for this unjustified act of war, by targeting the crimes of Russian officials, government-aligned elites, and those who aid or conceal their unlawful conduct,” said Garland.

The $10 billion request is above an earlier-discussed figure of $6.4 billion that congressional Democrats and Republicans showed signs of supporting.

In her letter, Young said that she anticipated that “additional needs may arise over time” given the evolving situation in Ukraine. Likewise, she said she expects extra funding will be needed to support the COVID response.

Also see: As Russians close in on Kyiv, the number of Ukrainian civilian fatalities and injuries continue to rise — here’s how you can donate food, medicine and shelter

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