Call on Congress to Split COVID and Ukraine Supplemental Funding

President Joe Biden stated that he was willing to have Congress pass two separate bills to secure funds to 33 billion dollars aid Ukraine and 10 billion dollars COVID-19.

President Biden called on Congress to prioritize aid for Ukraine first, then focus on securing extra funds to combat COVID-19.

The  Democrats in the US Congress unanimously support prioritizing the Ukraine aid bill. The House of Representatives can pass the bill—higher than the $33 billion requested by President Biden—as early as next week. Senate leaders also signaled that they were ready to take swift action.

On April 28, Biden asked Congress to pass a $33 billion aid package that included more than $20 billion of military aid for Ukraine. This proposition significantly increases the US funds allocated for the war against Russia.

The new plan includes an additional $3.4 billion in military aid and $3.4 billion in humanitarian assistance.

Both Democrats and Republicans support providing more aid to Ukraine and promise to take swift action to approve the emergency funds. But the Ukraine aid bill was prolonged due to the discussions regarding the addition of COVID-19 aid  and resources to enforce tighter migration controls to the package.

'Funds to support Ukraine with weapons will run out in two weeks.'

The Department of Defense issued a statement saying that the US would soon run out of funds and could only provide weapons to Kyiv for two weeks.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he was pleased with the decoupling of the Ukraine aid from the COVID-19 funding. McConnell advocated for the separation of the two bills in his speeches in the Senate.

But confident Democrats wanted COVID-19 funding and Ukraine aid to be included in the same package.

Dick Durbin—the number two Democrat in the Senate—stated that 'It would have been so much better for us to protect the United States as well as worked to protect Ukraine.'

President Biden also called for swift action on COVID-19 funding. Biden said, 'Without timely COVID-19 funding, more Americans will die needlessly.'

According to Ali Cinar,President Biden hosted Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and her colleagues in the White House Situation Room on Tuesday afternoon.The House  will vote on 40 billion dollar Ukraine supplemental aid  tonight.

The $40B Ukraine supplemental includes $19.8B for DoD, ~$3.4B more than Biden sought. That includes: -$8.7B to replenish stocks -$6B for Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative -$3.9B for EUCOM support -$600M for Defense Production Act -$550M for critical munitions and exports'

What is the Uniting for Ukraine program of the United States?

President Joe Biden recently announced a program called Uniting for Ukraine, which aims to accelerate the applications of Ukrainians who fled their countries and sought asylum in the United States.

Biden administration officials stated that the new program, which took effect at the top of this week, will complement existing legal pathways available to those fleeing from the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis.

On April 21, US Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas stated that "the US Department of Homeland Security will continue to provide relief to the Ukrainian people while supporting our European allies who have shouldered so much as the result of Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine."

What is the Uniting for Ukraine program?

The program allows US citizens and legal residents to sponsor Ukrainian refugees under different immigration statuses. The online portal is open to potential sponsors or organizations, and it accepts applications. The portal has received more than 4 thousand sponsorship requests so far, according to CNN.

Who qualifies under the program?

Ukrainians or immediate family members of Ukrainian citizens are eligible for application. Potential applicants must have been residents of Ukraine as of February 11, and they must have a sponsor in the United States.

What are the requirements of the program?

Ukrainians who wish to join the program must pass security checks, including giving fingerprints, going through an FBI name check, and passing through biometric screening, and meet public health requirements such as having the proper vaccinations before entering the United States.

Those approved will be allowed to enter the United States on humanitarian grounds. These people will be allowed to stay in the United States for two years, and they will be able to apply for work permits.

A DHS statement said that "the United States strongly encourages Ukrainians seeking refuge in the United States who do not have and are not eligible for a visa to seek entry via Uniting for Ukraine from Europe. This will be the safest and most efficient way to pursue temporary refuge in the United States."

Who qualifies as a sponsor?

US citizens and other residents who hold lawful status in the United States, foreign nationals who are beneficiaries of Deferred Enforced Departure, Temporary Protected Status, or Deferred Action, among others, can sponsor Ukrainians.

Sponsors must prove that they have the necessary resources to give financial support to the refugees. They also need to pass security and background vetting "in order to protect against exploitation and abuse." Ukrainian applicants will receive authorization only after every condition is met. These conditions include proving that the person or organization intending to sponsor them has the financial means to support them.

Who is not eligible for the program?

Ukrainian citizens already residing in the US are not allowed to participate in the Uniting for Ukraine program.

 More detailshttps://www.uscis.gov/humanitarian/uniting-for-ukraine

Mazurkevich: Ukraine needs to become a member of NATO.

Turk of America interviewed Ulana Mazurkevich, the President of the Ukrainian Human Rights Committee; President of the Ukrainian Community Committee, Philadelphia. She recently received a medal from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

Turkish - Ukrainian relations

I am so happy that Ukraine's neighbor Turkey has become a good friend and ally of Ukraine. I remember when Turkey was the first country to recognize the independence of Ukraine, when Ukraine voted on December 1, 1991, to become independent. 

 Turkey's and Ukraine's geography make it essential for them to have a close working relationship. After the invasion and seizure of Crimea by Russia, Turkey responded with strong condemnation of Russia. The human rights abuses that Russia waged and is waging in Crimea were deplorable. The deportation of Crimean Tartars, which is going on in Crimea, was first used by Stalin in changing the nationality of parts of Ukraine; the confiscation of their property, the closing of Ukrainian and Tartar schools, the mass arrests of activists this list of attacks against the Ukrainians and Crimea Tartars is never-ending in today's Crimea, which is under occupation by Russia.

Ukraine Relationship with U.S. and NATO

It is very important for Ukraine to become a member of NATO. Ukraine, in its foreign policy, is a strong ally of the West. Today, Ukraine stands as a bulwark against Russian aggression. It is fighting a hot war in the eastern part of the country. Hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians died or were wounded in this war with Russia. In this war, Ukraine stands alone. Many countries have voiced their support for Ukraine. I know that Ukraine appreciates this support. But, it does stand alone in defending its sovereignty. If Ukraine was a member of NATO, would Russia invade Crimea and western Ukraine? That is a question that is difficult to answer.

President Zelensky of Ukraine had a good and positive meeting with President Biden on September 1, 2021. In the Ukrainian Diaspora, we were encouraged by the joint statements issued after the meeting. Now it is up to the United States to deliver on its promises and for Ukraine to live up to its commitments.

There are additional things we would like to see from the Biden Administration. We would like the U.S .to revitalize the Strategic Partnership Commission and upgrade to the Charter of Strategic Partnership. We would like Russia to be excluded from the SWIFT payment system, which would be a strong solid blow to their economy. Of course, we would like President Biden to visit Ukraine shortly; a trip like that would send a powerful support for Ukraine.

Crimea is Ukraine

I defiantly think this will happen. Of course, it won't be tomorrow. But it will happen. It is too expensive for Russia to maintain. Once greater sanctions are implemented on Moscow by the United States and the European Union, this will speed up the end result. 

When I think about Turkey and Ukraine, I remember when I first visited Istanbul. The one thing I desperately wanted to see was the grave of Roxolana, the wife of Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent. Roxolana was a young Ukrainian girl who was captured in a raid by Turks; she became the most powerful woman in the kingdom and advised Suleyman in his military conquests. In my Saturday Ukrainian school, I also remember that we would read stories about the Turks crossing the Black Sea, landing on the shores of Ukraine, raiding villages, and capturing boys and girls who would serve the Sultan. It was said that the young boys who were captured would become the fiercest fighters in the Sultan's army. Probably many in Turkey have Ukrainian DNA in part because of these raids. Ali, who knows, you might have a Ukrainian DNA link.!

Medal from Ukrainian President 

I was very honored and humbled to personally receive a medal (award) from the President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, for my human rights work on behalf of Ukraine. It was a wonderful moment in my life, and I will cherish the memory and the beautiful medal. It's a gorgeous metal inlaid with amethyst stones. When we have an in-person Ethnic Council meeting will bring my medal to show.

  • Published in Politics

Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin in Brussels for Ukraine

After Russia massed troops on the Ukrainian border, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Brussels and announced again "the full support of the U.S. to Ukraine. "

There is heavy Ukrainian traffic in Brussels, the seat of the European Union and NATO. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken came to Brussels for a 2-day visit to hold talks on Iran and Afghanistan and Ukraine. Secretary of Defense Llyod Austin went to Brussels in the evening after his meeting with his German counterpart in Germany and joined Secretary Blinken.

Secretary Blinken met with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba, who was in Brussels to seek support from the E.U. and NATO, in the first phase of their meeting the day before the extraordinary meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers and Defense Ministers. In his meeting with Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dimitro Kuleba, Secretary Blinken reiterated "the unwavering support of the United States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine in the face of Russia's ongoing aggression." Secretary Blinken told reporters that "ongoing discussion for being Ukraine's a NATO member"

Speaking to journalists about his meeting with Kuleba, Secretary Blinken warned that since Moscow annexed Crimea in 2014, it has gathered the largest number of forces on the Ukrainian border, saying, "I conveyed the unwavering U.S. support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine. Russia. We continue to support Ukraine's Euro-Atlantic integration in the face of continued aggression in Donbas and Crimea."

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Kuleba is in Brussels seeking both political and military support from the E.U. and NATO. Political support statements were made from NATO, G7, and E.U. in the first place. However, no sign of military aid has yet come to Ukraine, which is not a member of the E.U. or  NATO.

Full support" from NATO to Ukraine

Alongside Secretary  Blinken, Kuleba met with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and allied country representatives at the NATO-Ukraine joint meeting."NATO stands by Ukraine," said Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who met with Kuleba at NATO headquarters. Kuleba asked the allies "not to repeat the mistakes that led to the annexation of Crimea and to give concrete support to Ukraine."

Continuing his contacts in Brussels, Kuleba also held an assessment meeting with permanent representatives of NATO member countries on the crisis. At the meeting, Kuleba explained that they expect "concrete and effective" support from NATO, directly conveying the events in the region to the member countries' representatives and asking Europe and NATO not to repeat the mistake that led to the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg asked Russia to end the military buildup and provocations on the Ukrainian border and take steps to reduce tension. Stoltenberg said, "Russia's military buildup is unfair, inexplicable and deeply worrying. Russia should put an end to this military buildup in and around Ukraine, stop their provocations and calm down immediately."

NATO Spokesperson Oana Lungescu announced that NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg would meet with Blinken and Austin tomorrow at NATO headquarters.

Surprise Call with Putin:

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. spoke today with President Vladimir Putin of Russia. 

Here is the official statement after the call:

They discussed a number of regional and global issues, including the intent of the United States and Russia to pursue a strategic stability dialogue on a range of arms control and emerging security issues, building on the extension of the New START Treaty. President Biden also made clear that the United States will act firmly in defense of its national interests in response to Russia’s actions, such as cyber intrusions and election interference. President Biden emphasized the United States’ unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. The President voiced our concerns over the sudden Russian military build-up in occupied Crimea and on Ukraine’s borders, and called on Russia to de-escalate tensions. President Biden reaffirmed his goal of building a stable and predictable relationship with Russia consistent with U.S. interests, and proposed a summit meeting in a third country in the coming months to discuss the full range of issues facing the United States and Russia. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/04/13/readout-of-president-joseph-r-biden-jr-call-with-president-vladimir-putin-of-russia-4-13/

Journalist, Ali Cinar

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