US weapons to Ukraine include 100 M-113 armored personnel carriers and 50 mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles. Credit: US Department of Defense (DoD)
  • by Thalif Deen (United Nations)
  • Interpress service

According to a report in the New York Times last week, the total amount of US humanitarian, financial and military aid approved for Ukraine has risen to a whopping $113 billion.

But still, it has never been enough, as Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky continues to ask for “more, more, more – and faster, faster, faster.”

When asked how long this would continue – and perhaps reach $200 billion or $300 billion over the years? – US Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield said: “This will have to last as long as it takes for Ukraine to defend itself and for Russia to stop its aggression against Ukraine”.

In an interview with Roland Martin on the Black Star Network, she said, “And I think we’ve heard it said over and over again: freedom is not free. We have to pay for freedom. We have to fight for freedom. And that’s what we fighting for”.

“Ukraine is a smaller country attacked by a bigger neighbor. Russia is a bully, and if Russia gets away with bullying Ukraine, who’s going to be next? And who’s going to be next after that? And suddenly we’re all involved in this ”, she explained.

The rising cost of the war in Ukraine follows complaints from the United Nations about a massive shortfall in funding, mainly from rich donor countries, for sustainable development, including climate change and the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger by 2030.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has warned that the world is failing to protect people from the catastrophic effects of climate change – especially in the world’s poorer countries.

“Adaptation needs in developing countries will soar to as much as $340 billion a year by 2030. Yet today, adaptation aid amounts to less than a tenth of that amount,” he said last November.

“The most vulnerable people and communities are paying the price. This is unacceptable,” he says. According to a UN report released last year, progress on climate change adaptation has been “slow and patchy”.

Since Russia’s invasion last February, Ukraine has become the absolute number one recipient of American aid.

“It is the first time a European country has held the top spot since Harry S. Truman’s administration directed enormous sums to rebuild the continent through the Marshall Plan after World War II,” according to the Council on Foreign Relations.

The uninterrupted flow of American and Western weapons has also sparked a debate among academics and civil society organizations (CSOs).

But defense contractors argue that it has strengthened the US arms industry and will provide employment for hundreds and thousands.

Dr. Natalie J. Goldring, visiting professor of practice at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, told IPS that there are enormous risks with an endless continued supply of military equipment to Ukraine.

“Although the Biden administration claims that the government of Ukraine has committed not to transfer the weapons we supply to other countries or unauthorized users, that is not the only risk associated with these transfers,” she added.

There is a significant risk of weapons being stolen or captured. The more weapons that are transferred, the harder it is to make sure they don’t end up in the wrong hands, she warned.

It is not at all clear how the US government believes this war will end, or when. In a recent interview, UN Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said, “This will have to go on as long as it takes for Ukraine to defend itself and for Russia to stop its aggression against Ukraine.”

“This statement seems to assume that Ukraine can win this conflict, but does not indicate whether US officials believe this will take weeks, months or years.”

“It also doesn’t clarify what it means for Ukraine to defend itself. Does it mean to win back all the territory lost in the last year, all the territory lost since 2014, or something else?” asked Dr. Goldring, who also represents the Acronym Institute at the United Nations on conventional arms and arms trade issues.

Meanwhile, the White House released its long-awaited Conventional Arms Transfer Policy on February 23, 2023.

A highlight of the policy is the establishment of the standard that the United States will not authorize arms transfers when the U.S. government determines that “it is more likely than not” that the transferred arms would be used to commit or facilitate the commission of serious violations of international humanitarian law or human rights .

The Biden administration’s new policy on conventional arms transfers raises the bar for US arms transfers. This is in stark contrast to a State Department fact sheet issued just three days earlier that dealt with using the president’s withdrawal authority to release materiel from Defense Department stockpiles.

That fact sheet had a significantly lower standard: “…the Department works to ensure that aid does not go to entities credibly involved in gross human rights abuses.”

Elaborating further, Dr. Goldring said that US military contractors continue to profit greatly from the war. Remarkably, they are even willing to admit publicly that the war suits their business purposes.

Last week, at an international arms show in Abu Dhabi, an American defense contractor told CNBC that “From our perspective, Putin is the best arms dealer out there.”

This eerie statement, she pointed out, treats gun sales as just another commodity to be sold, like computers or toasters. It does not take into account the human cost of using these weapons.

The Biden administration’s new conventional arms transfer policy includes welcome language about giving human rights concerns a higher priority when deciding on arms transfers.

But the real test will be how the policy is enforced. What transfers that were previously approved would not be allowed now? Will this new policy have any effect on the apparently insufficient supply of arms to Ukraine?, asked Dr. Goldring.

A US State Department fact sheet provides a long list of US arms to Ukraine, including: 20 Mi-17 helicopters; 31 Abram’s thoughts; 45 T-72B tanks; 109 Bradley infantry fighting vehicles; Over 1,600 Stinger anti-aircraft systems; Over 8,500 Javelin anti-armor systems; Over 54,000 other anti-armor systems and munitions; Over 700 Switchblade tactical unmanned aerial systems; 160 155 mm howitzers and over 1,000,000 155 mm artillery rounds; Over 6,000 precision-guided 155mm artillery rounds; Over 13,000 grenade launchers and small arms; Over 100,000,000 rounds of small arms ammunition; Over 75,000 sets of body armor and helmets; and approximately 1,800 Phoenix Ghost Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems.

The Western European states have collectively pledged over $50 billion in economic aid and hosted more than eight million refugees from Ukraine.

As of September 9, 2022, nearly 50 allied and partner countries have provided security assistance to Ukraine.

Among their many contributions to Ukraine were 10 long-range rocket systems (MLRS), 178 long-range artillery systems, nearly 100,000 rounds of long-range artillery ammunition, nearly 250,000 anti-tank weapons, 359 tanks, 629 armored personnel carriers. carriers and infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), 8,214 short-range anti-aircraft missiles and 88 lethal UAVs.

IPS UN agency report

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© Inter Press Service (2023) — All rights reservedOriginal source: Inter Press Service