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In the Garb Of Helping Ukraine, US Spending More On Own Military Industrial Complex

$61 Billion Military Aid
The war in Ukraine entered its third year on February 24, 2024

The jaw dropping decision of the Biden administration to inject $61 billion military aid has raised hopes that the embattled Ukrainians not only have a good chance of stalling the Russian advance in the Donbas region but can even hope of reversing the tide against Moscow.

But harsh ground realities narrate a different tale. For starters out of the $61 billion military aid, Ukraine can use only $13.8 billion for buying weapons. More than $23 billion will replenish US stockpiles of weapons and equipment that have been already transferred to Ukraine.

No doubt, even a $13.8 billion military infusion is impressive. But this is hardly an amount, spent on expensive American equipment, which would be a game changer on the battlefield, especially now when the Russians are seemingly on a roll.

The US package also includes $19.5 billion. This is bailout cash, which would go for paying salaries and pensions, but not for steeling the embattled Ukrainian war machine.

The American elites understand that their chimerical package, in the end, may fail to stall Ukraine’s defeat. At best it can delay the inevitable, providing some room for starting negotiations.

Among the big boys of the Biden administration, CIA chief William Burns may have already let the cat out of the bag. During an address at the George Bush Presidential Center last Wednesday, Burns acknowledged that Ukraine could lose to Russia by the end of 2024—an outcome that could “put Putin in a position where he could dictate the terms of political settlement”. He added that the with supplemental assistance from the US Congress, Ukraine could hold its own on the battlefield in 2024.

Significantly, by remaining fixated only up to 2024 end, Burns remained silent about Ukraine’s fate in a post-2024 scenario even after possessing the latest military aid package. So, was Burns hinting that Ukraine’s defeat could be delayed with the new aid package, but was eventually inevitable?

Echoing Burns, Jake Sullivan, the US National Security Advisor, also seemed to suggest that Kyiv was likely to suffer military setbacks as “it is going to take some time for us to dig out of this hole because of the 6-month delay (in congressional funding)”.

Many military specialists even in the West have now begun to grudgingly acknowledge that the Russian military war machine has been fixed.

Russia has “essentially transitioned to a war economy” and is now capable of producing weapons at a faster rate than in 2023, Norway’s Army Chief Eirik Kristoffersen was quoted as saying. “The modernisation of the Russian armed forces is now closer than I would have said a year ago, also based on what they are getting from Iran, from North Korea and how they were able to practically avoid sanctions,” the General told Breaking Defense. He pointed out at that from a doctrinal perspective, Russia has also been learning lessons from the failures of 2022. “They have learned their lessons and are using their findings. I think it will take them a little while longer… But if you have a very hierarchical system, once you have some lessons learned that you really want to implement, you can do it quickly.” “So, if they (decide) to move from manned to unmanned systems in one area, when they decide to do it, it will happen quickly,” Kristoffersen added.

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So why are the Americans, fully attuned to the blaring negative signals, still so keen to arm the Ukrainians, despite the likelihood of a massive and pivotal geopolitical defeat in Europe?

The answer may lie in the domestic domain, where US politicians across the political divide see in the heat of an election year, the revival of the vast American Military Industrial Complex and the jobs it will create in their domestic constituencies.

The Biden administration’s line of thinking of sending military hardware to Ukraine for reviving the US defence industry and securing jobs was evident by October last. In an Oval Office address then Biden had said: “Let me be clear about something. We send Ukraine equipment sitting in our stockpiles. And when we use the money allocated by Congress, we use it to replenish our own stores, our own stockpiles with new equipment.”

“Equipment that defends America and is made in America. Patriot missiles for air defense batteries, made in Arizona. Artillery shells manufactured in 12 states across the country, in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Texas. And so much more,” he said. “You know, just as in World War II, today patriotic American workers are building the arsenal of democracy and serving the cause of freedom.”

An opinion piece in The Washington Post, lists the bonanza that American weapon makers are reaping on account of the conflict in Ukraine. “We found that our military aid is providing a major cash infusion to 122 defence production lines in 65 congressional districts across the country that directly benefits American workers — and that doesn’t count all the suppliers that provide these contractors with parts or all the shops, restaurants and other businesses that support the factories rolling out weapons in these districts.”

With many Republican politicians also majorly benefitting, it is not surprising that many of them went along with a bipartisan compromise with the Democrats in passing the $61-billion aid bill for Ukraine.

The Post writeup, points out that the new aid package includes $5.3 billion to reach the Army’s goal of producing 100,000 155mm artillery rounds per month. That money will benefit factories receiving Ukraine aid for this purpose in Scranton, Wilkes-Barre and Bristol, Pennsylvania; Camden, Arkansas; Kingsport and Cordova, Tennessee; Middletown, Iowa; Coachella, California; and Mesquite, Texas.

The package includes $550 million for producing Guided Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (GMLRS) which are currently being built in Camden, Arkansas, Lincoln, Nebraska, and Springboro, Ohio, the Post says.


(Atul Aneja is a Senior Fellow at USANAS foundation. He is the former editor of India Narrative and Strategic Affairs Editor of The Hindu)