Is the United States Sending too Much Military Aid to Ukraine?

Ukraine War Tanks
February 20, 2024 Topic: Ukraine Region: Americas Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: UkraineRussia-Ukraine WarTaiwanDefenseCongress

Is the United States Sending too Much Military Aid to Ukraine?

America already has donated significant amounts of military aid to Ukraine. And we station roughly 100,000 military personnel across Europe to contribute to European security

The U.S. military needs to husband its resources so that it has the ability to protect America’s core national security interests. Because of the unparalleled extent of the challenge posed by China, U.S. defense spending must be focused on the Indo-Pacific. 

The National Defense Strategy identifies China as the primary threat to U.S. national security interests. This makes sense, given that China boasts an economy second only to our own, has engaged in a massive military buildup, and is laser-focused on displacing the United States as the preeminent power in the Indo-Pacific.

And yet, President Joe Biden’s latest supplemental budget request to Congress contains $60.6 billion in aid to Ukraine and only $5 billion in American shipbuilding and security assistance to allies in the Indo-Pacific.

Perhaps realizing how unpopular the transfer of huge amounts of weapons and money to Ukraine has become, the Biden administration and its allies in Congress and the media instead have attempted to argue that the bill primarily would aid the U.S. defense industrial base and replenish the military’s already depleted stockpiles. 

This time last year, the Biden administration’s argument for additional aid to Ukraine rested on its own merits. Now officials argue that aid to Ukraine is beneficial to the U.S. military.

But this bill isn’t primarily intended to strengthen the U.S. military. Quite the contrary, over the short term, it would deplete U.S. military stores. Fundamentally, this bill is intended to give more military and financial aid to Ukraine in its war with Russia.

The bill contains a $7.8 billion increase in Presidential Drawdown Authority, which enables the president to pull equipment and munitions out of existing U.S. military warehouses and units and send them abroad. As of December, the Biden administration has used this authority 44 times to take defense materiel out of U.S. stockpiles and transfer them to the government of Ukraine. Most of the military equipment already provided to Ukraine has been through Presidential Drawdown Authority.

It would take years for replenishment funding included in this bill to replace U.S. inventories that it would deplete in the short term. During this gap in military capacity, conflict in the Indo-Pacific would be a real possibility. Were the Chinese military to successfully conquer Taiwan, the result would be a geopolitical catastrophe with far more devastating consequences for Americans than the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Advocates of increased military aid to Ukraine also have argued that there is little to no overlap between what the U.S. is sending to Ukraine and what Taiwan would need to defend itself in the case of a Chinese invasion. But this simply isn’t true; there’s plenty of overlap.

The U.S. has sent air defense systems and munitions to Ukraine that Taiwan would need to fight back against China. The U.S. needs to prioritize Taiwan when considering weapons sales.

The Europeans can deter Russia if they choose. France alone has a larger economy than Russia. Together, European nations easily could outspend the Russians and take the lead in deterring Russia in Ukraine.

America already has donated significant amounts of military aid to Ukraine. And we station roughly 100,000 military personnel across Europe to contribute to European security.

But Russia isn’t the main security threat to the United States, and the U.S. isn’t in Europe. Our main security threats are the rise of Communist China and an open border, over which the cartels traffic human beings and drugs.

To prioritize the security of its own citizens, the U.S. government should focus on securing the border to stop the illegal flow of people and narcotics, and on equipping the military with the munitions and equipment it needs to deter China from taking aggressive action in the Indo-Pacific.

True replenishment of U.S. military stores would add to our already depleted stockpiles, not send more munitions to Ukraine and take years to replace them.

And frankly, if this bill were truly about strengthening the U.S. military and defense industrial base, and not primarily military and financial aid to Ukraine, it wouldn’t include the phrase “to respond to the situation in Ukraine” sprinkled so liberally throughout it.

Wilson Beaver is senior policy analyst for defense budgeting with the Center for National Defense at The Heritage Foundation.

This article was first published by The Daily Signal.