The Biden administration says it now has an additional $6.2 billion to spend on aid to Ukraine because the Pentagon made an accounting mistake.
Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said replacement costs, rather than the book value of equipment the Pentagon sent from its stocks were used to determine the value of the military hardware sent to Ukraine, according to the Associated Press.
“We have confirmed that for FY23, the final calculation is $3.6 billion, and for FY22 it is $2.6 billion, for a combined total of $6.2 billion,” Singh said, according to CNN.
“These valuation errors in no way limit or restricted the size of any of our PDAs or impacted the provision of support to Ukraine,” she said, using the acronym for Presidential Drawdown Authority, the bureaucratic mechanism used to transfer weaponry in American hands to foreign nations.
In its reporting, CNN noted that “The extra $6.2 billion is likely to mitigate the need for Congress to pass an additional assistance package before the end of the fiscal year in September.”
“It’s just going to go back into the pot of money that we have allocated” for Ukraine, Singh said, according to AP.
Through mid-June, the U.S. has given Ukraine $34 billion in military aid as part of an overall spending package of $113 billion linked to the war in Ukraine, including the cost to replace weapons sent to Ukraine and aid to NATO allies supporting Ukraine.
Singh said the error was first noticed on March 31, according to the Defense Department.
Initially, the Pentagon said its math had been off by $3 billion, leading to some sharp questions last month from CNN’s Jake Tapper when he hosted national security adviser Jake Sullivan, according to Fox News.
“There was this very bizarre admission from the Pentagon this week of an accounting error that suggested that the U.S. has at least $3 billion that it didn’t know it had that it can use for Ukraine aid,” Tapper said.
“That’s a hell of an accounting error. And it provides a lot of fodder to critics of U.S. aid to Ukraine and critics who say there’s not enough oversight going on. Are you concerned about this accounting error?” Tapper said.
“That is not money that went out the door and disappeared,” Sullivan said then.
“That is not a waste of that $3 billion. It is simply a tally of how much military equipment we have given them. And the way that the Pentagon was counting it was what’s the replacement cost for the equipment we provide rather than just the actual cost of that equipment. Once you make that adjustment, it turns out we have an additional $3 billion that we can spend to provide even more weapons to Ukraine,” he said.
“At the end of the day, not one penny of U.S. dollars will have gone missing or have been misallocated,” Sullivan said.
Aid for Ukraine has been a divisive idea. Republican Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia said recently that she might not approve the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets defense spending levels, if it supports the war.
I heard the National Defense Authorization Act may have money for Ukraine in it.
The NDAA should only fund our military for our defense.
I want to be able to vote for a good NDAA, but I will not if it funds Ukraine.
We should be pushing a peace deal not funding a war.
— Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene🇺🇸 (@RepMTG) June 13, 2023
“I heard the National Defense Authorization Act may have money for Ukraine in it. The NDAA should only fund our military for our defense. I want to be able to vote for a good NDAA, but I will not if it funds Ukraine. We should be pushing a peace deal not funding a war,” she wrote on Twitter.
Not all Republicans oppose aiding Ukraine.
Support for Ukraine is a direct investment in America’s own national security. U.S. assistance bolsters U.S. manufacturing, equips the U.S. military with new materials, and degrades Russia’s ability to threaten America.
— Leader McConnell (@LeaderMcConnell) June 12, 2023
“America’s support for Ukraine has done much more than sustain their defense. As I’ve said repeatedly, sending lethal Western capabilities to the front lines has been a direct investment in America’s own security. … Let me be clear: this assistance means more jobs for American workers and newer weapons for American service members,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week, according to Politico.