Russia Received $180 Billion Military Aid From US; Why Did Washington Arm Its ‘Biggest Rival’ With Tons Of Dollars?

With Ukraine’s counteroffensive advancing steadily, the Pentagon announced it would provide Kyiv with a new military package worth up to $500 million, just two weeks after a whopping $2.1 billion in security assistance was announced by the US Department of Defense (DoD).

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed his gratitude on Twitter, saying: “I am sincerely grateful” for another $500 million defense assistance package. Additional Bradley and Stryker armored vehicles, ammunition for HIMARS, Patriots, and Stingers will add even more power.”

The funding for the package comes from the Presidential Drawdown Authority, or PDA, which allows the president to transfer goods and services from US inventories during an emergency without congressional approval.

The United States has provided advanced military equipment to Ukraine since the war began last year, bolstering its combat capability against a massive and technologically advanced Russian military.

Earlier, the DoD noted that it had provided more than $39.7 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the beginning of the invasion. The figure would now be revised with the authorization of an additional $500 million in military aid.

Additionally, the Pentagon announced earlier that its aid for Ukraine had an accounting error and was overvalued by $6.2 billion. This led to the conclusion that the additional $6.2 billion will probably lessen the need for Congress to adopt another aid package before the fiscal year’s end.

More than 15 months into the war, the US has been relentlessly backing Ukrainian forces, shedding its inhibitions and even pledging previously forbidden systems like the Abrams tanks and the Patriot missile defense systems. On several occasions, US officials have stated they would support Kyiv’s fight against Moscow “for as long as it takes.”

Volodymyr Zelensky with Joe Biden
Volodymyr Zelensky with Joe Biden

Nobody has been particularly surprised by the haste US authorities have supplied Ukraine in its fight against Russia, its longest and most fierce rival and enemy.

However, there was a moment when the United States was providing military hardware to the same country that it is now arming Ukraine against.

Before the United States and the former Soviet Union (USSR) became Cold War rivals, they were allies. They became allies during the Second World War to defeat the Nazi Germany-led Axis that was unrelenting in its advance and decided to march into and invade the Soviet Union.

When The US Diligently Armed Soviet Russia

The US-Soviet alliance of 1941–1945 was characterized by high military and political collaboration. It was crucial to ensuring the defeat of Nazi Germany, even though ties between the two countries had been tense in the years before World War II.

In the words of the US State Department itself, without the remarkable efforts of the Soviet Union on the Eastern Front, the United States and Great Britain would have been hard-pressed to score a decisive military victory over Nazi Germany.

To mark that military cooperation, massive military aid started to flow from the United States to the Soviet in a fashion similar to how it has been flowing to Ukraine, ironically to fight the American ally of the Second World War.

Before the United States entered World War II in December 1941, it was already providing the Soviet Union with weaponry and supplies to repel the Nazi assault.

Although the Soviet Union and Germany signed a non-aggression pact in August 1939, the agreement was broken when Germany invaded the USSR in June 1941. At the time, then US President Franklin D. Roosevelt persuaded Congress that the country should offer military assistance to states that are “vital to the defense of the United States.”

“We cannot, and we will not tell [them] that they must surrender merely because of the present inability to pay for the weapons we know they must have.”

Franklin D Roosevelt with Joseph Stalin

The Lend-Lease Act, passed nine months before the United States entered the war, allowed Washington to send military supplies to the Soviet Union, China, and Great Britain. The menace that Hitler posed to the globe pulled the US and the USSR together, notwithstanding their differences in other areas.

The US State Department believes the country technically lent these materials to the ‘allies.’ In the end, the US did not demand or anticipate much in terms of financial compensation.

Lend-Lease was primarily a gift from the United States, the country Roosevelt called the “arsenal of democracy,” to its allies in the fight against Nazism and fascism. Some wartime loans were later settled at a significantly reduced rate.

The Lend-Lease Act of the United States, totaling $11.3 billion, or $180 billion in today’s money, provided the Soviet Union with essential products from 1941 to 1945 in support of what Stalin described to Roosevelt as the “enormous and difficult fight against the common enemy — bloodthirsty Hitlerism.”

The US began sending the first convoys of supplies to the Soviet Union in August 1941, following Nazi Germany’s invasion of the country in June. The weapons shipped from Washington included jeeps, trucks, airplanes, tractors, tanks, and blankets.

Besides, aid also included over 15 million pairs of army boots, some 107,000 tons of cotton, 2.7 million tons of petrol products, and a massive 4.5 million tons of food. In addition to these essentials, they also sent guns, ammunition, explosives, copper, steel, aluminum, medicine, field radios, radar tools, and books, among other items.

Even a complete tire factory owned by the Ford Company, which produced tires for military vehicles, was shipped by the United States to the Soviet Union.

In a November 1941 letter to Roosevelt, Soviet Premier Joseph Stalin thanked the US government for aiding his Red Army in fighting Hitler’s marching Nazi troops.

At a dinner toast with Allied leaders during the Tehran Conference in December 1943, Soviet Premier Stalin said: “The United States is a country of machines. Without using those machines through Lend-Lease, we would lose this war.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin recognized the Allied contribution to winning World War II in his remarks on May 9, 2005, at a parade in Moscow commemorating the 60th anniversary of the Allied victory over Nazi Germany.

With the aid given to the USSR, the Union’s Red Army fought valiantly against the Nazis. It suffered the most casualties during the war than any other force, as per Russia’s assertion.

Putin stated that the war impacted “61 nations and almost 80 percent of the world’s population” and that the Allies’ assistance was crucial to stopping Hitler.

Over 80 years later, the United States is now leading the NATO effort to arm Ukraine to defeat the Russians in a war that refuses to end.