White House explains $3 billion ‘error’ in Ukraine aid
Officials previously said they “overestimated” the amount of US aid sent to Kiev by several billion dollars
White House National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan has offered an explanation for a massive accounting error recently spotted in US assistance to Ukraine, arguing the blunder is actually good news, as it means even more American tax dollars can be sent to Kiev.
During an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, Sullivan was pressed to explain the Pentagon’s “bizarre admission” that it had found an extra $3 billion in Washington’s aid budget for Ukraine, with the host calling it “a hell of an accounting error.”
Asked whether the mistake suggested a lack of oversight for the 37 separate arms shipments and other assistance sent to Kiev since last year, the senior White House official insisted that “At the end of the day, not one penny of US dollars will have gone missing or have been misallocated.”
“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,” Sullivan explained. “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 acknowledged the Pentagon should have provided the correct figure “in terms of the accounting up front,” but argued that US taxpayers can be confident that “this money is being spent effectively and appropriately.”
The admission of the sizable accounting error last week follows repeated criticisms from some Republican lawmakers over US military aid to Ukraine, which has topped $37 billion since the conflict with Russia escalated last year. Last Thursday, 19 GOP representatives and senators penned a letter to President Joe Biden urging for an end to the largesse, citing dangerous tensions with Moscow.
The lawmakers said they were “deeply concerned that the trajectory of US aid to the Ukrainian war effort threatens further escalation and lacks much-needed strategic clarity,” adding that “there is no end in sight and no clear strategy to bring this war to a close.”
Despite those complaints, however, most lawmakers continue to back indefinite military aid to Kiev, with the Republican head of the US House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Michael Turner, recently declaring that there is “overwhelming” support for continued assistance within the legislature.
Russia has long warned that the military aid, training, intelligence, and other support offered to Kiev has already made the US and its allies de facto parties to the conflict.