The department cited a Senate aide and an official with the DoD, who were both anonymous. The two said the U.S. military had "overestimated the value" of some of its hardware sent to Ukraine by "around $3 billion." According to the sources, the Defense Department used the current replacement costs for equipment taken from its stocks instead of factoring in the original price and depreciation.
Per Reuters, the DoD sent a memo to all four service branches of the U.S. Armed Forces on March 31 clarifying how the value of the equipment should be calculated. The anonymous DoD staffer used the example of 155 millimeter artillery shells, of which more than 1.5 million were sent to Ukraine. While each shell costs about $800 today, its cost over several decades averages out to much less.
Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS), ranking member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the DoD made a "major mistake" that could underestimate future needs of its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). The Defense Department is reportedly taking steps to notify Congress of the "accounting adjustment."
"Our priority should be a Ukrainian victory over [Russian President Vladimir] Putin," he remarked. "Unilaterally altering military aid calculations is an attempt at deception and undermines this goal."
As of May 15, the U.S. has only approved $6 billion in aid for Ukraine – one-eight of the original $48 billion approved by Congress in December 2022. Getting more funding approved is difficult at the moment, due to the standoff over the national debt ceiling.
Kyiv has repeatedly said its success in the Russia-Ukraine war heavily depends on military aid sent by Washington and the rest of its NATO allies. Meanwhile, Moscow has warned that continued provision of military aid heightens the risk of direct confrontation. Based on estimated figures from the Russian military, the U.S. and its allies had delivered over $100 billion worth of weapons and supplies to Ukraine by December 2022.
The U.S. government provides weapons for Kyiv's use through two means.
First, the presidential drawdown authority (PDA) permits the DoD to send materiel from its own stockpiles. As of writing, the PDA consists of 37 separate packages that amount to a total of $21.1 billion.
Second, the recently announced Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI) would see Washington pay the military-industrial complex to make new weapons and ammunition. Under the USAI, the DoD can directly purchase Ukraine-bound weapons from military manufacturers instead of taking from existing stockpiles.
The $1.2 billion USAI was announced on May 9 as part of an ongoing program to build up the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) over the long term and provide for immediate battlefield needs. (Related: Pentagon to announce another $1.2B weapons package for Ukraine – when does it end?)
According to a press release, the package includes air defense systems, ammunition and "support to enable Ukraine to better maintain its on-hand systems and equipment." It continued that following the announcement, the Defense Department will open bids to contractors for the equipment.
"This USAI package underscores the continued U.S. commitment to meeting Ukraine's most urgent requirements by committing critical near-term capabilities such as air defense system and munitions, while also building the capacity of [the AFU] to defend its territory and deter Russian aggression over the long term," the DoD said.
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Watch Steve Bannon and Ben Harnwell discussing the Defense Department's $3 billion accounting error in Ukraine aid on "Bannon's War Room" below.
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