The White House War Profiteers Are Illegally Sending the Ukrainian Mafia Another $300M

ON 03/13/2024 AT 01 : 37 AM

Team Biden found a way to piece together $300M to spend on Ukraine munitions that Congress never approved for that purpose.
Army Tactical Missile System  --  ATACMS,
A variant of this M57A1 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) will be shipped to Ukraine as part of the new $300 million of U.S. military supplies about to be shipped to Ukraine. U.S. Army Acquisition Center (Public Domain)

With Congress in a deadlock over passage of any money authorizations other than short-term stopgap funding to keep the government from shutting down, the Biden gang has been struggling to find a way to keep military supplies flowing to both Israel and Ukraine.

It made this happen for Israel by authorizing over 100 emergency authorizations for military supplies that fell below a $100 million-per-transaction limit for what are referred to as “defense articles” and a $25 million-per-transaction limit for “major defense equipment”. The White House is allowed to authorize spending up to those levels without having to go to Congress under terms of the long-standing U.S. Arms Export Control Act. 

Though the full amounts of military items such as bunker-buster bombs, rocket launchers, and other supplies shipped to Israel since the October 7 war began will not be made public, what is known is that Biden authorized at least 100 of those shipments during this time, justifying them as a national emergency. If the $100 million maximum were to apply to all those shipments, that would mean the United States could have sent up to $10 billion in military aid to Israel to support its genocide of Palestinians without even a consultation with Congress to authorize what are clearly weapons of illegal and immoral genocide. The real likely totals are possibly substantially less than the maximum, but that this sort of subterfuge has become the norm rather than the exception to work around a Congress which is not ready to approve the estimated $14 billion in military arms funding the White House demanded.

Now the Biden administration is about to do something similar to pay for at least some additional weapons to Ukraine.

According to a recent report prepared by the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, the United States has supplied over $75 billion to Ukraine in a combination of military aid, humanitarian aid, and other financial support since Russia invaded the country in February 2022. It has continued to do so for most of that time, despite sizable evidence Ukraine, one of the most corrupt countries in the world even before the war began according to Transparency International, has diverted major portions of the aid to black market distribution rather than in defense of the war. The money had also continued to flow, often triggered after President Volodymyr Zelensky would come to the U.S. to deliver a new impassioned plea for money, but with increasing resistance by some in Congress and in more substantial percentages from the public at large, in the face of Ukraine seemingly making little progress in pushing back Russia and there being no visible plan to end the war any time in the near future. The war is obviously being waged for the sake of war and war profiteering with zero interest in peace. 

All that stalled as the latest round of funding disagreements with the Republican-led House of Representatives grew more partisan last fall. That resulted in several misfires over a request for an incremental $60 billion in military aid the White House is looking to add to the already sizeable funds spent to date for missiles and other weaponry, ammunition, training, Abrams tanks, and fighter jets. Speaker of the House Mike Johnson is also on record as opposing additional aid to Ukraine in this large an amount.

Even with such opposition, the White House remains optimistic that money will be authorized soon, but just as in the case of Israel it has decided to find a workaround which bypasses Congress yet again.

This time the monies are coming from what the Pentagon refers to as “replenishment funds”. The money this time comes from what Defense Department accountants refer to as “replenishment funds”. It shows up on purchasing line items authorized officially for other purposes, but for which the funds were either never spent at all or for which the contracts they were supposed to support ended up costing less than originally allocated. The gap between what Congress authorized the DoD to spend and what was leftover afterwards on the books is routinely used to buy things neither Congress nor the White House approved, though the spending on these special accounts is often coordinated with the Executive Branch of the government as a courtesy.

The $300 million “draw down” from these accounts will be used this time to pay for munitions such as artillery rounds and air defense interceptors, according to Pentagon sources. A major component of the money will also be used to supply Ukraine’s military with a slightly outdated version of the Army’s current ATACMS missile systems. These can travel as far as 100 miles and are needed to deal with Russia’s still surprisingly strong weapons portfolio of its own, which now includes more advanced drone weaponry than in the past. Other parts of the new funding will be used for battlefield armor for Ukraine’s troops.

The current batch of aid is seen as badly needed right now for Ukraine. Russia has of late increased its shelling of towns at the borders of the two countries’ secured areas. Also, although the Kyiv government claims it is still causing major damage to multiple areas along the Russian border and into Crimea, with occasional forays closer to Moscow itself, the evidence of forward progress on its part in the war is fading. Pentagon officials also say military supplies in Ukraine are sufficiently low that Ukrainian troops have been forced to ration the use of their munitions, which makes it difficult to manage battlefield situations in the moment.

As U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said when he announced the new $300 million military aid package yesterday, “When Russian troops advance and its guns fire, Ukraine does not have the ammunition to fire back.”

The lack of weaponry from the country Ukraine always counted on as its biggest funding partner has also damaged morale in the field, again according to officials close to the situation.

Though the Pentagon plans to get the latest batch of weapons out quickly, those monitoring the supply shortfalls say this latest package of military aid for Ukraine say what is being sent will probably be used up within weeks.

It also could be the last such package for a while, at least delivered using this approach to allocating money. Pentagon officials revealed in parallel with this release that, even though their accounting records may say the $300 million to pay for the current shipments is available, the military’s replenishment funds are in fact over $10 billion overdrawn.

There was no explanation for how the $300 million could have been used to buy the additional items for Ukraine. It is possible it is an “overdraft-in-advance” that U.S. officials are gambling will balance out when future military contracts come in under budget. But with the admission that those funds have already been over-committed and represent a “back debt” of $10 billion that will have to be paid off before new purchases will likely be accepted through the same process, the White House is going to need to find a solution soon to its external military funding crisis, including Ukraine.

The Biden administration may also soon have to face the growing reality that it cannot keep spending on endless military ventures indefinitely.