Biden’s $33 billion Ukraine aid proposal is unlike anything we’ve seen – Mother Jones

President Joe Biden tours a Lockheed Martin facility in Alabama that produces Javelin anti-tank missiles.Evan Vucci/AP

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In the little over two months since Russia invaded Ukraine, the United States has be committed $14 billion in money and arms to the Ukrainians. That’s an extraordinary sum, more than three times the amount of US aid Ukraine has received since 2014the year Russia annexed Crimea.

But last week President Joe Biden blew that number. He asked Lawmakers for $33 billion in aid consisting of defense weapons and economic aid. If Congress approves Biden’s request, in less than a year the US government will have transferred $47 billion to Ukraine, more money than all but a handful of countries combined have ever received from the United States.

“It’s almost unprecedented to scoop so much aid into a country in such a short amount of time,” William Hartung, a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, told me. Only four countries have received more than $30 billion in lifelong aid from the United States, and two of those – 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 pledged US troops will not be involved in the fighting, saying their movement in the region is purely defensive. “We will not wage war against Russia in Ukraine,” Biden said called March. “A direct conflict between NATO and Russia is World War III, something we must try to prevent.”

To stay out of a direct fight with Russia, Biden has ignored it Ukrainian print establish a no-fly zone and rejected a Polish plan to deploy fighter jets to Ukraine. But when it comes to military and humanitarian aid, he is remarkably less self-conscious. Even before his $33 billion request, Biden had announced shipments of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons, as well as rocket artillery and “more than 50 million rounds of ammunition.”

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 Forum on the Arms Trade. Even countries like Germany and Italy that didn’t want to get involved in the conflict have sent weapons like Stinger surface-to-air missiles.

“The amount of arms being shipped to Ukraine is spectacular at the rate it is progressing,” said Jeff Abramson, a senior Arms Control Association official who helped maintain the tracking sheet.

The Ukrainian military has more experience handling Russian or even Soviet weapons, so some countries have dug deep into their arsenals to find suitable weapons to ship. Because many of these weapons require “non-standard” ammunition – meaning they don’t meet NATO specifications – the State Department explains problematic issued a declaration of emergency last month allowing their transfer.

Military aid to Ukraine was an oddly important issue in US politics, and served as a central part of Donald Trump’s first impeachment. But long before Trump attempted to use U.S. aid to wreak political dirt on Biden’s family, Barack Obama balked at sending Javelin missiles to Ukraine when the country held off Russian aggression in 2014 — and staked a large part in doing so of his national security team, according to the Washington Post.

That moment now seems like a distant memory as 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 see the making of javelins up close. “They allow Ukrainians to defend themselves,” he said called there, “and frankly, they make a fool of the Russian military.”

With Biden’s backing, the auxiliary tap doesn’t seem to be turning off anytime soon. “We are still in an escalation phase of this war,” Abramson said. As the United States continues to play a key role in supporting the Ukrainian resistance, pundits like Abramson are hoping for a government watchdog — perhaps a special inspector general of the kind appointed by Congress during the Afghan war– to ensure US aid is spent appropriately. “There’s so much going in, and it’s not that big of an army,” Abramson said, referring to the Ukrainian military. “Is it able to use, maintain and manage the weapons effectively?”

Defense contractors looking to capitalize on Biden’s plea for help certainly hope so. While the defense result in the first quarter actually rejected As arms makers sever ties with Russia, industry leaders expect those profits to rebound thanks to Biden’s massive investment. Raytheon CEO Greg Hayes spoke on a conference call last week about the results called Defense spending, which should have risen ahead of the Russian invasion, is on a better track “than we expected”.

It is still unclear what that trajectory will be should the war draw to a stalemate. Will US targets shift to a full-fledged proxy war against Russia? Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin spoke about it weakening So Russia cannot launch a similar invasion. Is that now the primary US goal, or is Biden still intent on avoiding direct conflict with Russia? Eventually he will have to articulate those limits, but as Hartung said, a debate about rolling back US involvement “doesn’t seem to be an option in Washington right now.”

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