Accounting Error In Zelensky's Favor: Collect $3 Billion In Extra Weapons
Just three days after Politico reported the latest authorization of military aid to Ukraine was on pace to run out in mid-summer, the Pentagon on Thursday disclosed it had made an accounting error with previous weapon shipments, overvaluing them by about $3 billion.
And just like that, the Pentagon says it's now free to hand over another $3 billion in weapons, ammunition and supplies without asking Congress for approval.
"We've discovered inconsistencies in how we value the equipment that we've given," an unnamed senior defense official told Reuters, adding that it's possible the $3 billion discrepancy could grow even larger as the Department of Defense continues scrutinizing its accounting error.
Many of the weapon transfers to Ukraine have come from Pentagon stockpiles rather than straight from a factory. According to two DOD officials, the Pentagon used replacement cost for these, but should have used the Pentagon's "net book value," which is the Pentagon's original purchase cost minus depreciation.
Whether sincerely or as part of a rigged game, Capitol Hill warmongers scolded the Pentagon. “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," said House Foreign Affairs Chair Michael McCaul and House Armed Services Chair Mike Rogers in a joint statement. "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."
The two opportunistically reiterated previous calls for Biden to make up for "this precious lost time" by starting to provide Ukraine with dual-purpose improved conventional munitions (DPICM) and the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).
DPICM is a special 155mm artillery round. Controversially, it's a type of "cluster munition" that's "notorious for leaving dangerous unexploded munitions scattered over a wide area," Forbes reported, noting that -- in 2017 -- eight Vietnamese were killed and six injured by cluster ammunition used more than 40 years before. The 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions outlaws them, but the US government is not among the more than 100 signatories.
Thus far, the US government has given Ukraine almost $37 billion in military aid over the course of the 15-month war. However, Dave DeCamp at Antiwar.com notes that -- when tallying military aid, direct budgetary aid, training, the cost of US troops deployments to Eastern Europe and other aid -- the real tally of War State's latest proxy war against Russia exceeds $113 billion.
The Pentagon "error" adds a new stateside layer of doubt about the aid scheme's integrity. Questions already abounded about what happens to weapons once they're in the hands of the notoriously corrupt Ukrainian government. The Pentagon has a small team of inspectors in Ukraine, who can only provide limited accountability without venturing toward the battlefront -- to say nothing of having to rely on the honest participation of their Ukrainian "partners."
With American support for US involvement softening, Congressional hawks will welcome the opportunity to give Ukraine another $3 billion without taking a vote. An April Brookings poll found only 26% think America's goal should be returning Ukraine to the status quo that preceded Russia's invasion.