Yellen says U.S. to give Ukraine another $500 million to keep government running

·2 min read
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen speaks at the Atlantic Council in Washington

By David Lawder and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The United States will give Ukraine another $500 million in to help its government continue critical government operations, doubling the $500 million aid pledge by President Joe Biden in March, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on Thursday.

Yellen told a news conference that she shared the aid plans during a meeting with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Thursday.

"The needs of Ukraine are urgent, and we plan to deploy this direct aid to Ukraine as soon as possible," Yellen said. "We know this is only the beginning of what Ukraine will need to rebuild, and I'm committed to working with Congress and our international allies and partners to build on this support in the medium and long term."

The new aid will help Ukraine pay government salaries, pensions and fund social programs necessary to avoid a worsening of the humanitarian crisis caused by Russia's invasion of its southwestern neighbor.

Yellen said the $1 billion in direct aid will require the Biden administration to make a supplemental budget request to Congress and she was committed to asking lawmakers for further help for Ukraine.

"We've got to find ways to meet Ukraine's needs," she said.

Shmyhal, who is in Washington to attend the International Monetary Fund and World Bank spring meetings, is also due to meet with Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Later, he is due to address an event hosted by the World Bank about Ukraine's financing needs.

IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva on Wednesday said that Ukrainian government estimates that the country needs $5 billion in aid per month to keep its economy operating seem accurate, and the immediate priority was filling that gap for over the next three months.

The World Bank last week estimated that half of Ukraine's businesses are closed, the rest are operating at well below capacity and its GDP this year will collapse by 45% as Russia's invasion rages.

The Treasury official's statement came after G7 finance ministers on Wednesday announced that they had provided and pledged additional support to Ukraine exceeding $24 billion for 2022 and beyond, and vowed to do more as needed.

International aid for Ukraine between 2014, when Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine, and 2021 exceeded $60 billion, the Treasury official said.

(Reporting by David Lawder and Andrea Shalal; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Andrea Ricci and Marguerita Choy)

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