By FATIMA HUSSEIN
WASHINGTON (AP) — Ukraine is getting an additional $1.7 billion in assistance from the U.S. government and the World Bank to pay the salaries of its beleaguered health care workers and provide other essential services.
The money coming Tuesday from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Treasury Department and the World Bank is meant to alleviate the acute budget deficit caused by Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “brutal war of aggression,” USAID said in a statement.
While many medical staffers have left Ukraine, some hospitals have shut down and other hospitals have been bombed. The health workers who remain in Ukraine do their jobs under dire circumstances.
Viktor Liashko, Ukraine’s minister of health, said paying health workers’ salaries is becoming more difficult each month “due to the overwhelming burden of war.”
“$1.7 billion is not just yet another financial support; it is an investment that makes us a step closer to victory,” Liashko said in a statement.
To date, USAID has given $4 billion in budgetary support to the Ukrainian government. These funds have been used for keeping gas and electricity flowing to hospitals and schools, getting humanitarian supplies to citizens and paying the salaries of civil servants and teachers, the organization said.
USAID Administrator Samantha Power said that as Putin’s “assault on Ukraine’s public services continues, the United States is rushing in with financial support to help the government keep the lights on, provide essential services to innocent citizens and pay the health care workers who are providing lifesaving support on the frontlines.”
Last week, the Biden administration said it will send another $400 million in military equipment to Ukraine, the 15th package of military weapons and equipment transferred to Ukraine from Defense Department stocks since last August.
This new set of funds will be used for humanitarian purposes.
“This aid will help Ukraine’s democratic government provide essential services for the people of Ukraine,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said in a written statement.
Yellen said the money would “reach those who need it most at the front lines of Putin’s brutal and illegal war.”
Overall, the U.S. has sent about $7.3 billion in aid to Ukraine since the war began in late February.
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