Jun 21, 2023 - World

Pentagon says accounting error frees up $6.2 billion for Ukraine military aid

Ukrainian soldiers training with a recoilless rifle in Donetsk Oblast on June 18.

Ukrainian soldiers training with a recoilless rifle in Donetsk Oblast on June 18. Photo: Wojciech Grzedzinski/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Department of Defense (DOD) said on Tuesday an accounting error revealed last month overestimated U.S. military aid to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion by $6.2 billion.

Why it matters: The "valuation errors," as the Pentagon described them, will allow it to send additional military aid packages to Ukraine, which earlier this month embarked on its long-awaited counteroffensive against Russian forces in occupied territories.

  • However, the error frustrated top Republicans on the House Foreign Affairs and Armed Services committees, who said the extra assistance should have been given to Ukraine before its counteroffensive.
  • It also has drawn criticism from other members of Congress who have previously backed plans to oppose future aid packages to Ukraine.

What they're saying: Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh said in a press briefing Tuesday that the error occurred when, "in a significant number of cases," U.S. military officials overvalued U.S. assistance to Ukraine by using the replacement cost of transferred equipment and not the equipment's book value.

  • She said the equipment was overvalued by $2.6 billion in fiscal year 2022 and by $3.6 billion in fiscal year 2023.
  • Singh said after the error was discovered on March 31, the DOD's comptroller reissued guidance on how sent equipment should be valued.

By the numbers: Since the start of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the U.S. has given Ukraine approximately $40 billion in security assistance, according to the Department of State earlier this month.

  • Roughly $22 billion of the assistance has been through physical equipment from DOD stockpiles transferred through 37 presidential drawdowns.
  • The assistance, as well as equipment transfers and training from dozens of other countries, has been critical in Ukraine's ability to defend itself against the invasion and has allowed it to make new gains in the early phase of its counteroffensive.

Yes, but: Partisan politics, inflamed by an upcoming election year, may threaten future assistance to Ukraine, Axios' Zachary Basu reports.

  • Former President Trump, the frontrunner to win the Republican nomination for 2024, said last month that he would "settle" the invasion within 24 hours of becoming president — though he did not explain how he would do so.
Data: Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Pew Research Center; Chart: Axios Visuals

The big picture: Republican voters overall have grown more hostile toward military assistance to Ukraine, with 44% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents saying the U.S. has given it too much aid in a recent survey by Pew Research Center.

  • Overall, however, nearly half (47%) of Americans either said that the U.S. has provided the right amount of assistance or that it should give more.

Go deeper: Biden backs plan to ease Ukraine's path to NATO after war

Methodology: The Pew Research Center interviewed 5,115 people between June 5 and June 11 and has a margin of error of +/- 1.7 percentage points.

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