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UKRAINE UPDATE: 17 OCTOBER 2023

Yellen says Biden will ‘fight’ for more aid; Kyiv to bring back four children illegally taken by Russia

Yellen says Biden will ‘fight’ for more aid; Kyiv to bring back four children illegally taken by Russia
US Treasury secretary Janet Yellen. (Photo: Hollie Adams / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged European finance chiefs to move ahead with plans for €50bn in fresh aid to Ukraine while pledging the White House, and a majority in Congress, will ‘fight’ to provide new US assistance.

The Biden administration’s top envoy for Ukraine recovery arrived in Kyiv to underscore the US’s continued commitment. Former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker met with President Volodymyr Zelensky and other top officials, as well as representatives from the private sector and the American Chamber of Commerce.

Ukraine is bringing back four children who were illegally taken by Russia, according to Andriy Yermak, Zelensky’s chief of staff. Qatar intervened as a mediator to secure their return, the Washington Post reported, citing a government official briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic negotiations.

Latest developments

Yellen tells European officials Biden will ‘fight’ for Ukraine aid

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen urged a gathering of European finance chiefs to move ahead with plans for €50-billion in fresh aid to Ukraine while pledging the White House and a majority in Congress will “fight” to provide new assistance for the embattled Eastern European nation.

“President Biden and I, along with a bipartisan majority of the US Congress and the American people, will fight so that our support is not interrupted and sufficient funding is in place,” Yellen said on Monday in Luxembourg in a speech to the Eurogroup, a body of Eurozone finance ministers.

Yellen’s remarks nodded to growing worries on both sides of the Atlantic that efforts to continue offering substantial aid to Ukraine are coming under threat and may depend, in part, on the other’s ability to extend its commitments.

“For Congress to be willing to provide the level of support that we are to Ukraine, it’s important to know that we are not alone in this,” Yellen said during a news conference following her speech.

Speaking alongside her, Eurogroup President Paschal Donohoe said he and his colleagues “took great heart in the message that Secretary Yellen gave today”.

In the US, a group of Republican hardliners, many of whom oppose more Ukraine aid, recently deposed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and pitched the chamber into a disruptive leadership struggle.

Biden is planning to make a formal request for additional foreign aid this week, including for Ukraine and Israel, but it’s unclear whether the House can act without a permanent Speaker in place.

Ukraine says four children illegally taken to Russia to return

Ukraine is bringing back four children who were illegally taken by Russia as the country seeks to return thousands of young, forced deportees, according to Zelensky’s chief of staff.

Three boys aged three, six and nine, as well as a 17-year-old girl, were headed back to Ukraine after being illegally deported to Russia, Andriy Yermak said on Monday in social media posts.

Qatar intervened as a mediator to secure their release, the Washington Post reported earlier on Monday, citing a government official briefed on the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive diplomatic negotiations. Yermak didn’t mention Qatari involvement in his posts.

Ukraine has recorded nearly 20,000 children that have been illegally deported to Russia, with fewer than 400 returned so far, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said in an interview on Radio Liberty last week. Ukraine’s ombud, Dmytro Lubinets, visited Qatar in August to discuss returning from Russia the children who had been deported by force.

US envoy for Ukraine recovery visits Kyiv to reassure Zelensky

The Biden administration’s top envoy for Ukraine recovery arrived in Kyiv on Monday to underscore the US’s continued commitment even as the flareup in violence between Israel and Hamas diverts attention from Russia’s invasion.

Former Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, who was appointed in September, met Zelensky and other top officials, as well as representatives from the private sector and the American Chamber of Commerce, a senior State Department official said. One goal was to hear what Ukrainian officials need as the country heads into winter and take the pulse of the business community.

The trip comes at a pivotal moment as global attention shifts to Israel’s battle against Hamas and the US push to back Israel while also seeking to prevent a wider war. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has crisscrossed the Middle East to lower tensions and address humanitarian concerns.

The US is also pressing Ukraine to keep battling corruption, which has weighed on the country’s economy for years. Pritzker met anti-corruption officials in keeping with her belief that the country’s economic recovery cannot proceed without further reforms and progress in countering corruption.

Pritzker joined Blinken in meetings with Ukrainian business executives in New York last month to talk about how to restore the economy.

“Ukraine has the conditions for economic convergence with Europe — an educated and talented workforce, fertile land, mineral and mining and material wealth, proximity and access to the European single market,” Pritzker said in New York. “These are the ingredients for growth. Even now they exist and they’re there.” DM

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  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Americans, for an intelligent society the level of your blindness as to how important protection of Ukraine’s right to sovereign independence is to your own right to the same is deeply troubling.

    We are not countries anymore. This is one world. And we all survive or fall together.

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