Pentagon error said to overvalue Ukraine arms aid by $3bn

Accounting error could mean more funds are available for Ukraine military aid as a counteroffensive against Russian forces nears.

A Ukrainian serviceman of the 128th territorial defence brigade attends a military training, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine, May 18, 2023. REUTERS/Bernadett Szabo
A Ukrainian serviceman of the 128th territorial defence brigade attends military training in the Donetsk region, Ukraine, on May 18, 2023 [Bernadett Szabo/Reuters]

The US Department of Defense overestimated the value of weapons and other military equipment provided to Ukraine by approximately $3bn, officials said, an error in accounting that may lead the way for more arms being sent to Kyiv.

In many of the military aid packages sent to Ukraine, the defence department opted to draw from existing US stockpiles of older, existing items because it should ship them more quickly, officials said.

The accounting error was the result of assigning a higher than warranted value on older weaponry that was taken from those existing stocks.

“During our regular oversight process of presidential drawdown packages, the Department discovered inconsistencies in equipment valuation for Ukraine. In some cases, ‘replacement cost’ rather than ‘net book value’ was used, therefore overestimating the value of the equipment drawn down from US stocks,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said on Thursday.

A defence official told the Associated Press that the Pentagon is still trying to determine exactly how much the total value of the surplus will be. The Reuters news agency cited a US defence official who said the amount of overvalued weaponry could possibly grow beyond $3bn as the Pentagon examines the situation more thoroughly.

The result may mean that the defence department will have more available funds to send to Ukraine as a much-anticipated offensive against Russian forces nears.

Addressing the cost anomalies, a senior defence official explained to Reuters that in the case of 155mm ammunition for Howitzer artillery, of which more than 1.5 million shells have been sent to Ukraine, each cost about $800 at current prices. But the actual cost of each of the shells, which have been delivered to US military stockpiles each year over several decades, should be averaged out for a much lower price.

To date, the US has provided Ukraine with nearly $37bn in military aid since Russia invaded in February 2022. The bulk of that has been in weapons systems, millions of munitions and ammunition rounds, and an array of trucks, sensors, radars and other equipment pulled from Pentagon stockpiles and sent quickly to Ukraine.

“The Department of Defense’s change in evaluating the costs of arms sent to Ukraine is a major mistake,” said US Senator Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Our priority should be a Ukrainian victory over Putin. Unilaterally altering military aid calculations is an attempt at deception and undermines this goal,” he said.

Singh, the Pentagon spokeswoman, said the accounting error had not constrained US support to Ukraine or hampered the ability to send aid to the battlefield.

Source: News Agencies