By Bill Pan
The U.S. Department of Defense on Tuesday said it has overcounted the value of the weapons it sent to Ukraine over the past two years by $6.2 billion.
This error occurred because U.S. military officials didn’t count the actual value of what was pulled from the Pentagon’s weapons stockpile and sent to Ukraine but instead used the value of replacing those weapons, according to deputy Pentagon press secretary Sabrina Singh. Newly produced weapons typically cost more than the excess old ones they will replace.
“In a significant number of cases, services used replacement costs rather than net book value, thereby overestimating the value of the equipment drawn down from U.S. stocks and provided to Ukraine,” the spokeswoman said.
Specifically, there was an error of $2.6 billion in the 2022 fiscal year and $3.6 billion in the current fiscal year, which is about to end very soon.
“We have confirmed that for FY23, the final calculation is $3.6 billion, and for FY22 it is $2.6 billion, for a combined total of $6.2 billion,” Singh added. “These valuation errors in no way limit or restricted the size of any of our PDAs or impacted the provision of support to Ukraine.”
Presidential drawdown authority, or PDA, is a mechanism the Biden administration is using to expedite the transfer of weapons and other equipment to Ukraine.
This final calculation of the accounting error is almost twice as much as what was estimated last month. The Pentagon at that time said it might have overcounted the value of weapons by around $3 billion.
Tuesday’s announcement is convenient for Kyiv, which is fighting a counteroffensive and continues to ask for more military and economic help from Washington on top of the multi-billion-dollar aid packages it has already received.
In a recent interview with NBC News, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy admitted that the counteroffensive had been met with a tough Russian response, especially when American-made F-16 fighter jets were not delivered promptly because of bureaucratic issues.
“I understand that there is bureaucracy,” Zelenskyy said. “But we are losing time, we are losing people, and, the most important thing, we are losing our advantage.”
“Russia is controlling the air,” he continued. “Ukraine wants to be able to compete in the air—let us do it today.”
Zelenskyy also pushed back on comments from Republican presidential contenders who expressed skepticism about continuing to arm Ukraine at the present rate.
During the interview, Zelenskyy was asked about Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’ characterization of the Ukraine-Russia conflict as a “territorial dispute” and former President Donald Trump’s vow to negotiate a peace deal between the two countries as soon as possible.
“If any candidate thinks supporting Ukraine is too costly, are they ready to go to war? Are they ready to fight? Send their children? Die?” Zelenskyy told NBC’s Richard Engel.
“They will have to do it anyway if NATO enters this war, and if Ukraine fails and Russia occupies us, they will move on to the Baltics or Poland or some other NATO country. And then the U.S. will have to choose between keeping NATO or entering the war.”
When asked whether he was worried if certain candidates winning the 2024 U.S. presidential election, Zelenskyy said he believes that Americans will choose the “most worthy” leader and that he will respect their choice.
“The American people will choose the most worthy president, and we will support this choice. And that’s normal and fair,” he said.
“Of course, some statements from representatives of specific groups and politicians calling for diminished support of Ukraine, yes, that does worry us. I think that’s a big risk for Ukraine. It’s not the person at the top; it’s the change of policy we want to avoid. I believe that won’t happen.”