$3-billion accounting error means the Pentagon can send more weapons to Ukraine

Ukrainian soldiers firing a cannon near Bakhmut
Ukrainian soldiers fire a cannon near Bakhmut, where fierce battles against Russian forces have gone on for months.
(Libkos via Associated Press)
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The Pentagon has overestimated the value of the weapons it has sent to Ukraine by at least $3 billion — an accounting error that could be a boon for the war effort because it will allow the Defense Department to send more weapons now without asking Congress for more money.

The acknowledgment Thursday came as the Pentagon was under increased pressure by Congress to show accountability for the billions of dollars it has sent in weapons, ammunition and equipment to Ukraine and as some lawmakers question whether that level of support should continue.

It also could free up more money for critical weapons as Ukraine is on the verge of an expected counter- offensive — which would require as much military aid as Kyiv can get. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has previously said the offensive was delayed because his country’s forces did not yet have everything they needed.


Washington’s math mistake stemmed from officials’ incorrect valuation of some of the systems sent to Ukraine: They used the amount it would cost to replace an item completely rather than the current value of the weapon.

In many of the military aid packages, the Pentagon has opted to draw from its stockpiles of older, existing gear because it can get those items to Ukraine faster.

“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 U.S. stocks,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said.

She added that the mistake hasn’t constrained U.S. support to Ukraine or hampered the ability to send aid to the battlefield.

Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, wins new military aid pledges as European allies fear a Trump return in the U.S. 2024 election.

May 15, 2023

A Defense official said the Pentagon was still trying to determine exactly how much the surplus will be.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said the comptroller has asked the military services to review all previous Ukraine aid packages using the proper cost figures.


The result, the official said, will be that the department will have more available funding authority to use as the Ukraine counteroffensive nears.

The aid surplus was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The U.S. has provided Ukraine nearly $37 billion 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.

President Biden has endorsed plans to train Ukrainian pilots to fly F-16s, officials say, clearing the way to arm Kyiv with the U.S.-made fighter jets.

May 19, 2023

Members of Congress have pressed Defense Department leaders on how closely the U.S. is tracking its aid to Ukraine to ensure that it is not subject to fraud or ending up in the wrong hands. The Pentagon has said it has a “robust program” to track the aid as it crosses into Ukraine and to keep tabs on it once it is there, depending on the sensitivity of each weapons system.

There also is a small team of Americans in Ukraine working with Ukrainians to conduct physical inspections when possible but also virtual inspections when needed, since those teams are not going to the front lines.

In late February, the Pentagon’s inspector general said his office had found no evidence that any of the billions of dollars in weapons and aid to Ukraine has been lost to corruption or diverted to the wrong hands. He cautioned that those investigations are in their early stages.