Since February 24, 2022, when Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine, Congress has appropriated $115 billion in US greenbacks to support the Kyiv government. President Joe Biden just announced he is sending an additional $2.6 billion. Inside the beltway, political wonks like to minimize the sticker shock of the US taxpayer money flow to Ukraine by comparing it to the budget-busting $6.5 trillion (and counting) spending spree the White House is on – an equivalent of $19,434 per person in the US. Therefore, rather than listing a dollar amount, they can simply call the money appropriated for Ukraine just 2% of the FY2022 expenditure. Gee, it doesn’t sound like so much when you put it that way.
Just a minute. According to the Congressional Research Service, one could also think of $115 billion as the cost of 27 Virginia-Class attack submarines at a procurement cost of $4.3 billion per boat. Or, $115 billion approximates the entire Defense Department expenditure for Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation last year. The point is that a lot of money is being spent on helping Ukraine beat back the Russian invaders. Few would question the need to replenish ammunition, replace damaged or destroyed equipment, and upgrade Ukrainian military capability. And that’s what the $2.6 billion will do.
At an April 4, 2023, Senior Defense Official press briefing, the Pentagon spokesperson explained the assistance to Ukraine would be broken into three categories. “First, the package includes important capabilities for air defense and to counter Russian unmanned aerial systems…Second, in the category of fires, the package includes various items to help Ukraine sustain its fight…Third, the package includes several capabilities to support U.S.-provided armor.” The capability to engage and destroy unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) like the Iran-provided Shahed drones include systems like counter-UAV weapons such as sophisticated, truck-mounted anti-aircraft guns, and additional Patriot air defense missile systems.
Supporting Ukraine’s ground forces to sustain combat with the Russian invaders, the US is providing precision Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems and replenishment supplies of 155-mm artillery shells, some of which are highly accurate and precision-guided. According to reports from the regions seeing the most combat, Ukraine’s successes are attributed to precise artillery fire, some of which has taken out Russian armor on the move. Lastly, the US is supporting Ukraine’s new tank battalions, including Abrams M1-A1 tanks the Biden administration agreed to send to the fight. To sustain the US-provided armor, Biden is also sending recovery vehicles that retrieve damaged tanks that can be repaired as well as 61 refueling vehicles to keep the tanks capable of engaging the enemy.
“The new weapons and money come as Russia has continued to bombard Ukraine with long-range missiles and the hotly contested battle for the eastern city of Bakhmut drags on,” Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an Associated Press interview. “Unless his country wins that fight, Russia could begin building international support for a deal that could require Ukraine to make unacceptable compromises,” the AP reported. Zelensky put words to the fear Ukraine has expressed before. After fighting and dying, seeing the incomprehensible destruction and carnage the fighting has visited on the courageous Ukraine people, to be forced to give up hard-won gains bending to an internationally imposed negotiation would be an anathema to the Kyiv government. But herein lies the dilemma. What does the end of the fighting look like?
Greenbacks galore for evermore is not the answer, and Americans are beginning to push back on Biden’s simplistic buzz words, “as long as it takes.” Liberty Nation reported on steps to at least account for what is being spent on preventing fraud, waste, and abuse of the money being spent. However, ensuring the money goes for what it is intended is just the bean-counter part of the problem. The critical question is when will the Biden national security team come up with a practical endgame strategy that honors the sacrifices made by the Ukrainians and sends Russian President Putin and his invading thugs packing. As it stands, to paraphrase the late senator from Illinois, Everett Dirksen, “$2.6 billion here, $2.6 billion there, pretty soon you’re talking about real money.” Unfortunately, the American taxpayer thinks it’s real money now.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.
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