U.S. lawmakers promise more money, weapons as Ukraine faces 'Hurricane Putin'

Firefighters and Ukrainian army soldiers search for bodies of people killed during a Russian attack, among the remains of a building beside a TV tower, in the recently liberated town of Izium
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By Patricia Zengerle

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democratic and Republican U.S. lawmakers said on Thursday they wanted to continue the flow of money and weapons for Ukraine's battle against Russia's invasion, denouncing Moscow's plan to annex four Ukrainian regions.

"We have not won this yet. We need to continue to support the Ukrainians," Democrat Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters after a classified briefing on the conflict.

The Senate passed a bill funding the federal government through Dec. 16, and sending $12.3 billion in military and economic assistance to Ukraine. The bill, which the House of Representatives is set to pass on Friday, also authorizes President Joe Biden to direct the drawdown of up to $3.7 billion for the transfer to Ukraine of weapons from U.S. stocks.

Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said he wanted "to send a very clear signal" that more economic and military assistance would be sent to Ukraine when Congress returns to Washington after the Nov. 8 mid-term elections.

"This is a defining moment for the world when it comes to territorial integrity," Graham told a news conference where he and Democrat Richard Blumenthal introduced a bill to cut off U.S. assistance to any country that recognizes Russia's annexation of Ukrainian territory.

"We're dealing with Hurricane Putin," Graham said, after expressing best wishes for U.S. citizens affected by powerful Hurricane Ian.

Graham and Blumenthal also called on Biden to designate Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, which the administration says is not the most effective way to hold Russia accountable.

Blumenthal and Graham's bill was one of several seeking to boost Ukraine that was recently introduced in Congress.

Some proposals could become law as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a massive bill setting policy for the Pentagon expected to pass by year-end.

On Thursday, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen and Republican Pat Toomey filed an amendment to the NDAA proposing the Biden administration use secondary sanctions to strengthen a price cap G7 countries plan to impose on Russian oil.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Sam Holmes)