Military aid, including weapons and ammunition, sent by the United States to Ukraine was overestimated by at least $3 billion owing to an accounting mistake by the Pentagon, Defense Department officials have said.
“During our regular oversight process of presidential drawdown packages, the Department discovered inconsistencies in equipment valuation for Ukraine,” said Pentagon deputy press secretary Sabrina Singh in an emailed statement to Axios on May 18.
Singh said the mistake was made owing to the Pentagon inadvertently using a higher value cost, or a replacement cost, instead of the weaponry’s value when it was purchased and depreciated when it came to estimating the value of some military equipment taken from U.S. stocks and sent to Ukraine.
“In some cases, ‘replacement cost’ rather than ‘net book value’ was used, therefore overestimating the value of the equipment drawn down from U.S. stocks,” Singh continued. “This over-valuation has not constrained our support to Ukraine nor impacted our ability to flow capabilities to the battlefield.”
The Defense Department did not state the date on which the accounting error was discovered or provide further details as to exactly which weapons had been mistakenly overestimated.
Officials told The Hill that the Pentagon is still assessing the total over-valuation but that for now, they estimate it to be a minimum of $3 billion, although this figure could rise further.
The recently-discovered accounting mistake means that the Biden administration may be able to delay asking Congress to authorize more aid for Ukraine in the near future which will no doubt be welcomed by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ahead of Ukraine’s much-anticipated counteroffensive.
The Epoch Times has contacted the Defense Department for comment.
The Biden administration announced on May 9 that it is sending a military aid package worth up to $1.2 billion to Ukraine to help bolster its air defenses and sustain its artillery ammunition needs.
So far, the United States has committed more than $37.6 billion in aid to Ukraine, according to an updated fact sheet (pdf). Of that, more than $36.9 billion has been sent to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s invasion in February 2022.
Weapons sent by the United States include High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, Javelin anti-tank weapons, and a Patriot surface-to-air missile system.
Responding to news of the Pentagon’s overestimation in Ukraine military aid, House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas) and House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) released a joint statement condemning the accounting error.
Rogers and McCaul said the mistake was discovered by the Pentagon two months ago, adding that it is “extremely problematic” that Congress was only recently informed of the error.
“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,” they said.
“The Biden Administration must make up for this precious lost time by using these funds to provide Ukraine the DPICMS and ATACMS they need to fuel the counteroffensive and win the war,” Rogers and McCaul added.
Elsewhere, Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) called it an “attempt at deception.”
“The Department of Defense’s change in evaluating the costs of arms sent to Ukraine is a major mistake,” Wicker said in a statement, Politico reported. “Its effect would be to underestimate future needs for our European allies.”
GOP Lawmakers Call for End to Military Aid
The announcement regarding the accounting error also comes shortly after Defense Department officials assured members of Congress on Feb. 28 that there was no evidence suggesting that weapons sent to Ukraine by the United States to aid in its war with Russia have been misused or diverted elsewhere.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have raised concerns regarding the growing military aid to Ukraine and called for increased oversight into the billions of dollars in aid.
“The U.S. government has not seen credible evidence of any diversion of U.S. provided weapons outside of Ukraine,” said Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense for International Security Affairs, at a hearing of the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.
Meanwhile, some Republican lawmakers have called on the administration to stop sending billions of dollars in military aid to Ukraine, citing concerns that doing so may risk further escalating the war while simultaneously draining U.S. funding amid what they say appears to be a prolonged conflict with no clear end in sight.
Their concerns come as the United States reached its technical debt limit of $31.4 trillion on Jan. 19 and negotiations on the matter remain ongoing.
“To prop up a foreign government that is historically mired in corruption while the American people suffer from record inflation and a crippling national debt is wildly irresponsible on its own – but to do so while our military contends with aging weapons systems and depleted stockpiles is disgraceful,” 19 lawmakers wrote in an April 20 letter to Biden.
“There are appropriate ways in which the U.S. can support the Ukrainian people, but unlimited arms supplies in support of an endless war is not one of them. Our national interests, and those of the Ukrainian people, are best served by incentivizing the negotiations that are urgently needed to bring this conflict to a resolution,” the letter concluded.
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