U.S. Congress negotiators set nearly $12 billion in new Ukraine aid -sources

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A local resident walks past a damaged apartment block in Mariupol

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -Negotiators of a stop-gap spending bill in the U.S. Congress have agreed to include nearly $12 billion in new military and economic aid to Ukraine, sources familiar with the talks said on Monday, reflecting continued bipartisan support for the Kyiv government in the wake of Russia’s invasion.

In response to a request from the Biden administration, the funding would include $4.5 billion to provide defense capabilities and equipment for Ukraine, as well as $2.7 billion to continue military, intelligence and other defense support, said the sources, who asked not to be identified ahead of the announcement.

It also will include $4.5 billion to continue to provide direct budget support to the Kyiv government through the next quarter. That way President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s administration can pay salaries to essential staff, support Ukrainians fleeing conflict and cover other critical expenses to help civilians, a government official said.

U.S. President Joe Biden asked Congress earlier this month to provide $11.7 billion in new emergency military and economic aid for Ukraine in the stopgap spending bill. There is widespread support in Congress from both Biden’s fellow Democrats – who narrowly control both the House of Representatives and Senate – and Republicans for helping Ukraine to defend itself following Russia’s invasion.

Congress is facing a midnight Friday deadline to pass the spending bill, which also would temporarily fund a wide range of U.S. government programs.

In addition to the previously listed funding, the package – which could be announced as soon as later on Monday – includes $2 billion for the U.S. energy industry, to address the impact of the war and reduce future energy costs.

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One of the sources familiar with the package said the funding request – known as a continuing resolution – would also include resettlement funding for Afghan refugees.

In a separate, but related authorization request, a U.S. official said the Biden administration also planned to ask Congress for an additional $3.6 billion in Presidential Drawdown Authority, which allows the president to authorize the transfer of excess weapons from U.S. stocks.

Washington and its allies have sent billions of dollars in security and economic assistance to Ukraine during the seven-month-long war.

(Reporting by Richard Cowan, Steve Holland, Mike Stone and Patricia Zengerle; editing by Grant McCool and David Gregorio)

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