“We’re out of money” – US State Department on continuing support for Ukraine

From the celebration of economic and military support provided by the US to Ukraine since Russia’s large-scale invasion of its neighbor in February 2022 – totaling some $44.2 billion so far – the promise of a continued flow of capital through 2024 appears to be a thing of the past.

Political differences between Democrats and Republicans led to the failure to pass a $66 billion joint Israel-Ukraine security funding package at the end of 2023, effectively shutting down the US government’s ability to supplement its own Presidential Appropriation Authority (PDA) funding that had increased. up until that point it had been funding its support for Ukraine.

Creative accounting freed up about $6.2 billion in theoretical PDA funding as the year drew to a close, according to the US State Department, but that is finite and cannot currently be replaced.

The result is that the authority to donate to Ukraine through the PDA structure is not available, as donated military platforms and munitions from US stockpiles will not be replenished. While the U.S. will likely have significant stockpiles, a reduction in its own force structures could affect readiness, particularly with ongoing issues affecting the U.S. defense supply chain.

As of early January, “approximately” $4.2 billion of restored PDA funding remained, according to the US Pentagon.

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But Pentagon spokesman Gen. Pat Ryder said that while the US “had the authority” to spend the $4.2 billion in available funds, it “would not have the ability” to replenish the stockpile by drawing on additional funding or inventory from the USA. military stock.

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“We’re out of money,” Ryder said.

US support in 2024 shifts to different ‘level’

Looming problems in the US’s ability to support Ukraine are compounded by European and NATO allies meeting Washington’s own commitments. A European Union pledge to deliver a million artillery shells to Ukraine has failed miserably as the bloc grapples with its own defense dilemmas.

European countries have been quick to pledge capabilities and have delivered in key areas such as Leopard 1 and 2 main battle tanks, 155 mm Caesar howitzers, AS90 self-propelled guns, among others, but will not be able to sustain such a level of commitment through 2024. With in much the same way as the US, European countries are facing difficulties in assembling their defense industrial base to meet Ukraine’s needs while at the same time replenishing national stockpiles.

The US State Department pointedly said on January 4 that the US would not be able to support Ukraine as it had done since Russia invaded in 2022. State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Congress “had to act” to to approve the financing of Ukraine.

“We’ve run out of funding here. We know that we must continue to support Ukraine. They need – they rely on this help. They rely on it to continue fighting a brutal Russian onslaught that continues daily. And so it’s important for Congress to act to continue to fund this democracy that continues to defend itself,” Miller said.

Faced with questions from an assembled media crowd, Miller said the US would support Kiev “as long as it takes,” though the tone shifted mostly toward working to build Ukraine’s own industrial capabilities so it can to maintain its own defensive efforts against Russia.

“That doesn’t mean we’re going to continue to support them at the same level of military funding that we did in 2022 and 2023. We don’t think that should be necessary because the goal is ultimately to get Ukraine … to stand on its own two feet and help Ukraine build its own industrial base and its own military industrial base so that it can finance and manufacture and acquire munitions on its own,” Miller said.

Economies of scale

The difficulty of changing the narrative of building Ukraine to help it sustain business against Russia by using its own industrial base, as the two countries have significantly different economies, in terms of scale.

The CIA World Factbook reports that Ukraine’s real GDP had fallen from an estimated $535.579 billion in 2021 to $379.893 billion by 2022, almost certainly as a result of Russia’s invasion. In contrast, the same source puts Russia’s real GDP at $4.078 trillion in 2021.

While Western sanctions against Russia have caused some economic difficulties, Moscow has still managed to find customers for its main export – energy – with China willingly stepping in to fill the gaps left by European countries that have tried to disengage their dependence on Moscow.

If China moves to support Russia more than it already does (mostly financial and non-lethal aid at present), it is unlikely that Ukraine, even with Western support, will be able to regain all the ground lost to Russia since the invasion.

Even if Ukraine is able to develop the capability to sustain, in part or in whole, the war effort against Russia, such economies of scale will mean that Kiev will continue to struggle to match Russia’s industrial superiority, even and by discounting the potentially decisive importance of China. role that remains to be played.

Read the original at Defence247.gr

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