Biden’s $ 33 billion call for aid to Ukraine is unlike anything we’ve ever seen: Mother Jones

President Joe Biden visits a Lockheed Martin facility in Alabama where Javelin anti-tank missiles are manufactured.Evan Vucci / AP

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In just over two months since Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States has done so engaged 14 billion dollars in money and weapons for the Ukrainians. This is an extraordinary sum, more than three times the amount of US aid that Ukraine has received since 2014the year that Russia annexed Crimea.

But President Joe Biden surpassed that figure last week. HEY he asked lawmakers for $ 33 billion in aid, consisting of defensive weapons and economic assistance. If Congress approves Biden’s request, the US government will send Ukraine $ 47 billion in less than a year, more money than all the US but a handful of countries has ever received in total.

“It is almost unprecedented to distribute so much aid to a country in such a short time,” William Hartung, senior researcher at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told me. Only four countries have received more than $ 30 billion in life aid from the United States, and two of them, Iraq and Afghanistan, have been the scene of protracted US conflicts.

The extent of US involvement in Ukraine was hotly debated even before the Russian invasion. biden promised not to involve US troops in the fighting and said their movement in the region would be purely defensive. “We will not fight a war against Russia in Ukraine,” Biden She said in March. “The direct conflict between NATO and Russia is World War III, something we must strive to prevent.”

To stay out of a direct fight with Russia, Biden ignored Ukrainian pressure establish a no-fly zone e rejected a Polish plan to transfer fighter jets to Ukraine. But when it comes to military and humanitarian aid, it has been considerably less inhibited. Even before his $ 33 billion request, Biden had approved the shipment of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, as well as missile artillery and “more than 50 million bullets. ”

Ukraine has received a variety of other weapons from more than two dozen other countries, but the United States is by far the largest contributor to lethal aid, according to a tracking sheet maintained by the Arms Trade Forum. Countries like Germany and Italy, which were reluctant to get involved in the conflict, have also sent weapons such as Stinger surface-to-air missiles.

“The amount of guns going into Ukraine, at the rate it’s going, is spectacular,” said Jeff Abramson, a senior member of the Arms Control Association who helped maintain the tracking sheet.

The Ukrainian military has more experience dealing with Russian or even Soviet-era weapons, so some countries have deepened their arsenal to find appropriate weapons to send. Since many of these weapons require “non-standard” ammunition, which means they do not meet NATO specifications, the State Department released an emergency declaration last month allowing their relocation.

Military aid to Ukraine has been a curiously powerful issue in US politics, having been a central component of Donald Trump’s first impeachment. But long before Trump tried to leverage US aid as a way to acquire political dirt on Biden’s family, Barack Obama resisted sending Javelin missiles to Ukraine as the country fought Russian aggression in 2014, nullifying in the process. a large chunk of his national security team, according to Washington Post.

That moment seems a distant memory now that Ukraine has become one of the largest recipients of US aid in history. On Tuesday, Biden even visited a Lockheed Martin plant in Alabama to get a closer look at the manufacturing of Javelins. “You’re allowing the Ukrainians to defend themselves,” hey She said there, “and frankly, they are making fun of the Russian army.”

With Biden’s support, the aid tap doesn’t seem to close anytime soon. “We are still in an escalating phase of this war,” Abramson said. As the United States continues to play a key role in supporting the Ukrainian resistance, experts like Abramson hope that a government controller, perhaps a special inspector general such as the one appointed by Congress during the war in Afghanistan—To ensure that US aid is spent appropriately. “There is so much to do, and it’s not that big of an army,” Abramson said, referring to the Ukrainian army. “Is he able to use, maintain and manage weapons effectively?”

Defense contractors looking to benefit from Biden’s call for help certainly hope so. While the first quarter defense earnings actually refused With arms manufacturers severing ties with Russia, industry leaders expect profits to rebound thanks to Biden’s massive investment. In an earnings call last week, Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes She said defense expenses, which it was already destined to increase before the Russian invasion, it is on a better trajectory “than we expected”.

It is not yet clear what that trajectory will be if the war were to drag itself into a stalemate. US goals will become a it was the delegation in all respects against Russia Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin spoke about it weakening Russia therefore cannot launch such an invasion. Is this now the main focus of the United States or is Biden still intent on avoiding a direct conflict with Russia Eventually he will have to articulate those limits, but as Hartung said, a debate on the withdrawal of US involvement “doesn’t seem to be on the cards right now in Washington.”