Selfish calculations behind continuous US military aid to Ukraine

China Military Online
Chen Zhuo
2023-05-17 17:42:17

By Xie Siqiang and Ji Yuesheng

The US recently announced to provide a new round of military aid worth US$1.2 billion to Ukraine. The military aid package includes more air defense systems and ammunition, equipment to integrate Western equipment with the nation's existing air defenses, commercial satellite imaging services, and training and equipment maintenance for Ukrainian military. The plan came less than a week after US Secretary of State Antony Blinken announced that the US would provide Ukraine with a new US$300 million military aid package on May 3. The US has multiple considerations behind high-frequency military aid to Ukraine.

In terms of the content of military aid, compared with billions of dollars in the past, the number of aids announced by the US recently is not large as they basically aim to supplement the Ukrainian battlefield losses and maintain existing combat capabilities. This reflects the US's consistent strategy of trying to control the direction of the war through military aid and continuing to use Ukraine to wear down Russia. And also, US can increase exposure through frequent limited military aid.

In terms of aid methods, US aid to Ukraine is increasingly relying on orders for production rather than direct appropriation. Due to the limited inventory of the US military and the need for other key combat directions, the US had to place an order for production before delivering the materials to Ukraine. It is worth mentioning that most of the aid funds flow to the US itself. Take the US$40 billion Ukrainian aid bill signed by US President Joe Biden in May 2022 as an example, only US$4.35 billion was used for humanitarian aid to Ukraine, while most of the rest went into the pockets of US defense contractors. Some American media compared it to a "money laundering scheme".

In terms of timing, the Biden administration has frequently played the "aid card" in order to build momentum for re-election. Biden regards aiding Ukraine and weakening Russia as one of his major diplomatic achievements during his tenure. The 2024 US election is approaching but Biden's approval rating continues to hover at a low level due to the domestic economic downturn and political polarization. At present, military aid to Ukraine has become a tool for Biden to canvass for himself. He appeared in Kyiv on the eve of the first anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine conflict and then continued to increase aid to Ukraine. These actions were for his own election campaign.

In terms of aid effectiveness, military aid has limited improvement in the combat capability of the Ukrainian army. The main battle equipment of the US and the West arrived in Ukraine one after another but failed to help the Ukrainian army launch counter-offensive operations. The rumored "winter counter-offensive" and "spring offensive" were shattered one after another. In the face of the advantages of the Russian army's system scale, it will be difficult to completely change the battlefield situation even if Ukraine acquires more advanced equipment in the future.

At present, the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for more than a year, and the international community is increasingly calling for a ceasefire and relaxation of the situation. The US's continuous military aid to Ukraine has fully exposed its sinister intentions of insisting on fighting the war regardless of international calls for peace.

(The authors are from the War Research Institute of the PLA Academy of Military Science)

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