Peace advocates reacted to Thursday's request by U.S. President Joe Biden for $33 billion in additional aid to Ukraine by warning against what they called a dangerous escalation and by accusing the administration of misplaced priorities.
Biden is asking Congress for additional funding for war-ravaged Ukraine, including more than $20 billion in "security and military assistance," $8.5 billion in economic aid, and $3 billion in "humanitarian assistance."
"It's not cheap. But caving to aggression is going to be more costly if we allow it to happen," said Biden. "We either back the Ukrainian people as they defend their country, or we stand by as the Russians continue their atrocities and aggression in Ukraine every day."
The president's appeal for additional funds comes on top of the $4.6 billion in security assistance the U.S. has given Ukraine since January 2021, including $3.7 billion since Russian forces invaded the country in February.
Medea Benjamin, co-founder of the women-led peace group CodePink, called Biden's request "a down payment on World War III."
"Biden's call for an enormous $33 billion for Ukraine is over half the entire budget for the State Department and USAID," she tweeted, referring to the United States Agency for International Development. "We need diplomacy, not billions more in weapons!"
Benjamin also noted that the Biden administration—which refuses to unfreeze Afghanistan's central bank reserves—"won't fill the $2 billion shortfall in the urgent U.N. appeal for the desperately poor people of Afghanistan."
$33 billion to the Ukraine.— Joe Biden Hates Black People (@realnikohouse) April 28, 2022
Ppl can’t put food on the table. Rents gone up. Housing prices have gone up. Raises have almost gone down when accounting for inflation. We’re having supply shortages across the board.
But we have $33 billion to spend on Ukraine but not US citizens.
Jennifer Briney, host of the Congressional Dish podcast, tweeted: "How can the U.S. possibly maintain the already-pretty-clear-fiction that we aren't 'in' the Ukraine-Russia war if we inject $33 billion into it? How can this not lead to escalation?"
Ben Freeman, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, pointed out that "the $20 billion military assistance package is more than the total defense budgets of all but 13 countries in the world."
Others commented on what they implied are the administration's misplaced priorities amid the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, worsening economic inequality, and the climate emergency. "Biden's $33 billion 'emergency' military aid package for Ukraine is three times the size of the EPA's entire budget for 2022," tweeted CounterPunch editor Jeffrey St. Clair, referring to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
DATA: A cumulative total of U.S. military aid to Ukraine since Russia's Feb. 24 invasion.— Jack Detsch (@JackDetsch) April 28, 2022
February 25: $350m
March 12: $550m
March 16: $1.35b
April 1: $1.65b
April 5: $1.75b
April 13: $2.55b
April 21: $3.35b
April 24: $3.67b
April 28: $14.67b (if approved by Congress)
Writer and activist Margaret Kimberly bemoaned that "Biden is asking struggling Americans who lost their child tax credit for $33 billion after his Ukraine police blew up in his face."
Ben Cohen, co-founder of the ice cream company Ben & Jerry's, wondered why Biden is "asking for an extra $33 billion to help Ukraine and not an extra $33 billion to replace every single lead pipe in America" when "we have at least 1.2 million children suffering from lead poisoning here and now."