WASHINGTON – The Pentagon overstated the price of weapons sent to Ukraine from US stockpiles by at least $3 billion over the past year, defense officials acknowledged Thursday.
It’s an error that two GOP lawmakers say caused Kyiv to miss out on critically needed weapons as the nation readies for an expected push to expel Russian troops from occupied Ukrainian territory.
“These funds could have been used for extra supplies and weapons for the upcoming counteroffensive, instead of rationing funds to last for the remainder of the fiscal year,” House Armed Services Committee chairman Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said in a statement.
While the DoD discovered the accounting error earlier this year, officials only informed Congress of the error on Thursday, Rogers and McCaul said.
“The revelation of a three-billion-dollar accounting error discovered two months ago and only today shared with Congress is extremely problematic, to say the least,” they said.
The accounting error occurred when defense personnel tabulated the value of used equipment sent to Ukraine as if it were purchased new, rather than using the depreciated price, according to US officials familiar with the matter.
It was unclear Thursday evening what specific weapons were inadvertently overvalued.
Now, the lawmakers want President Biden to urgently send Ukraine additional weapons with the unspent $3 billion to help Kyiv win its war with Moscow nearly 15 months after Russian forces invaded.
“The Biden Administration must make up for this precious lost time by using these funds to provide Ukraine the [dual-purpose improved conventional munition] and [Army tactical missile systems] they need to fuel the counteroffensive and win the war,” Rogers and McCaul said.
Though the US has sent Ukraine at least 35 military aid packages since Russia invaded the country on Feb. 24, 2021, the ongoing fight requires still more weapons as experts say the conflict is tipping in Ukraine’s favor.
US officials have pressed Congress this week to continue supporting Ukraine. With Russian President Vladimir Putin facing depleted weapons stocks and just two countries – Iran and North Korea – providing Moscow with limited weaponry, witnesses at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday said now is no time to pull back on aid deliveries.
“The United States has very limited ability to to shape directly the trajectory of us Russia relations, and so the single most important way to shape that trajectory is by enabling Ukraine to defeat Russia,” former Ambassador to Russia John Sullivan told lawmakers, noting that “a Russia that makes gains in Ukraine is likely to be emboldened.”
But Ukraine’s success, he said, would be a win for not only Kyiv but also for US national security.
“A military defeat of Russia, in contrast, could be the type of seismic event that is required to catalyze bottom-up pressure that will be needed to set Russia down a different path,” he said. “A Ukrainian victory raises the prospect, even if just slightly, that Putin could be forced out of office creating an opening for political change.”
An additional $3 billion in weapons for Ukraine would represent one of the largest single military aid packages that Washington has sent Kyiv.
While it’s unclear what the US would provide with those funds, its most recent military aid package worth $1.2 billion included air defense systems; ammunition for counter-drone systems; 155mm artillery rounds; satellite imagery services; and “support for training, maintenance, and sustainment activities,” according to the Pentagon.
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