We remain skeptical of claims that getting the United States more deeply involved in the Russia – Ukraine war is in our national interest from either a national security or economic
security perspective. But we also believe that if the United States makes a commitment, it should follow through and honor that commitment.
So, what should we make of the findings of a recent study by our friends at the Center for Security Policy (CSP) that found the Biden administration’s much-touted commitment to supplying arms to Ukraine is mostly smoke and mirrors and lagging far behind the dollars appropriated by Congress and the allegedly desperate needs of the Ukrainians?
The CSP report, authored by Dr. Andrei Illarionov, Senior Analyst for Russian and European Affairs, and based on the U.S. official data, aims to provide readers with the most comprehensive and accurate estimates possible of American security assistance to Ukraine – appropriated, authorized, contracted – as well as actually delivered – as of July 1, 2023.
What can be concluded from the official figures is shocking.
The Biden administration has lagged far behind Congress in committing American resources to Ukraine. Support for Ukraine represents a tiny fraction of U.S. defense aid to the United Kingdom, Soviet Union, or France in World War II. For reasons still unclear, the White House has provided Ukraine with zero Lend-Lease assistance.
To assess U.S. security assistance to Ukraine in the last 16 months of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, Dr. Illarionov says there are five main (rounded) numbers to remember: 49 – 40 – 17 – 6 – 0. As of July 1, 2023:
* Congress has allocated approximately $49 billion in security assistance to Ukraine;
* Out of the $49 billion Congress has allocated, the Biden administration authorized $40 billion in security assistance to Ukraine;
* The actual delivery of U.S. security assistance to the territory of Ukraine was $17 billion;
* The Pentagon contracted manufacturers to produce defense items for Ukraine in coming months and years for $6 billion;
* The Biden administration used $0 from the Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, adopted by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Biden into law on May 9, 2022.
What Dr. Illarionov’s research shows is that from 1992 till July 1, 2023, Ukraine has received a total of $21.1 billion in U.S. security assistance ($4.0 billion from 1992-2021 and $17.1 billion from 2022-2023).
Comparative data for all recipients of U.S. security aid in 2020-2023 is not currently available. Assuming no radical changes in security assistance trends for other recipients in the last three and half years, far from being an “all hands on deck” crisis recipient of military aid, Ukraine (with $21.1 billion in U.S. military aid) might now be in 12th place, instead of 36th, behind Taiwan and Italy and before Pakistan and Jordan.
Since U.S. security assistance is provided based on changing geopolitical dynamics and U.S. foreign policy priorities, it might be more correct to compare annual average amounts of aid during times of more intensive American support for different recipients.
In terms of annual average U.S. security assistance during periods of intensive American support, Ukraine, at $661 million from 1992-2023, is the 18th largest recipient of U.S. military aid after WWII, behind Greece and United Kingdom and before Laos and Cambodia (see Table 10). Another approach said Dr. Illarionov, is to compare U.S. security assistance to Ukraine during the last two years of full-scale Russian aggression with annual U.S. military aid provided to a particular recipient.
In terms of annual U.S. security assistance to a particular recipient in a particular year, Ukraine in 2022 with $11.1 billion comes 9th in the list of largest annual recipients (behind France in 1951 and before South Vietnam in 1971), and in the first 6 months of 2023 with $6.0 billion it comes 22nd (behind Afghanistan in 2014 and before Poland in 2003).
Little wonder conservatives are confused and increasingly skeptical of Joe Biden’s conduct of our policy toward Ukraine.
According to a recent Pew Research Center survey, nearly half of Americans (47%) say either that the United States is providing the right amount of aid (31%) or not enough assistance (16%) to Ukraine, that compares with 28% who say the U.S. is giving too much support to Ukraine. However, 44% of Republicans and Republican-leaning independents say the U.S. is giving too much aid to Ukraine.
Compare those numbers to the survey conducted in March of last year, Republicans were only 4 percentage points more likely than Democrats to say the U.S. is providing too much aid to Ukraine (9% vs. 5%). Today, Republicans are 30 points more likely to say so.
Remember: 49 – 40 – 17 – 6 – 0. The bottom line is that if this is a national security emergency requiring the United States to become ever more deeply involved in a proxy war with Russia, Joe Biden has taken a very lackadaisical approach to delivering the weapons necessary to win it.
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Center for Security Policy (CSP)