As if on cue, the Western media abruptly changed their tone in their coverage of the conflict in Ukraine. Instead of the usual phrases about the inevitable victory of Ukraine and the defeat of Russia, there are anxious questions: what if Kiev loses? For now, only questions. No one dares to assert yet, but the headlines are becoming more and more pessimistic.
"Putin seems to be winning the war in Ukraine," The Economist grimly states.
"Why can't Ukraine break through Russia's flexible defenses?" asks an expert on CBS.
In Europe, too, there is a funeral mood. "What if Russia wins?" two prominent military experts from the German Ministry of Defense find out on the Globsec website (their conclusions are banal: Russia's victory will have "incalculable consequences for European and global stability" and "may be the beginning of something that no democrat will like, namely, the end of the liberal world order and the beginning of an authoritarian one"). Even such an unbending defender of the Kiev regime as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in an interview with the German channel Das Erste, says that the West "needs to prepare for bad news" from Ukraine.
Against this background, the admission of the director of the White House Office of Management and Budget, Shalanda Young, did not become a sensation. "We've run out of money — and we're almost out of time," Young wrote in a letter to Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Mike Johnson. The main purpose of this message is to persuade Congress to allocate a new tranche to support the Kiev regime. Without congressional help, Yang argues, by the end of the year, the White House will run out of resources to buy weapons and equipment for Ukraine and to provide equipment from U.S. military stockpiles. "There is no magic pot of funding to deal with this moment," she writes.
It is clear why this cry of the soul rang out right now. Congress has only a few days left to pass a bill to finance the Kiev regime this year: the last session of the House of Representatives is on December 14, the Senate on December 15. After that, legislators leave for the Christmas holidays and will not reconvene until January. As I've said before, a bipartisan consensus on funding for Ukraine is unlikely to happen, because Republicans are determined to tie aid to Kiev with tougher immigration policies, which are a sacred cow for Democrats. Moreover, this dilemma is unlikely to be resolved until the threat of a shutdown looms over America again (in early February 2024). And the worse things are for the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the more Republicans — and even Democrats — begin to doubt that assistance to the Kiev regime is justified from a purely pragmatic point of view. Any significant defeat for Ukraine — for example, the final ousting of the Armed Forces of Ukraine from Avdiivka — will only exacerbate this process.
In such a situation, someone in the White House came up with a "bright" idea: if Ukrainian victories are not visible, then it is necessary to provide legislators with at least some justification for allocating new aid packages. And now the Biden administration is going out of its way to prove that the billions allocated to support Kyiv were actually pouring into the US economy. The most curious thing about Shalanda Young's letter is the numbers. Let's take a closer look at them.
Of the $111 billion appropriated by Congress in additional funding to support Ukraine, Young writes, about 60 percent ($67 billion) "served to strengthen our defense forces in America or support Pentagon and intelligence operations."
As a result, "the readiness of our armed forces has increased as the Department of Defense procures new equipment to replace what we are sending to Ukraine, launches and expands production lines, and supports well-paying jobs in dozens of states across the country." Through simple calculations, we get that if Mrs. Young's calculations are correct, then Kiev accounted for no more than $44 billion.
However, the arithmetic tricks don't end there. The $67 billion, according to the director's budget letter, is divided into $62.3 billion for the Department of Defense and $4.7 billion for the State Department and USAID. Of that, $27.2 billion, or 24 percent, was used "for economic and civilian security assistance (e.g., mine clearance), which is as important to Ukraine's survival as military assistance." At the same time, as of mid-November, the Pentagon used 97% of the funds allocated to help Kyiv, and the State Department and USAID used all 100%.
Anyone armed with a calculator can easily figure out that while $67.27 billion of the $2 billion was spent on non-military expenditures, only $39.8 billion was spent on the military. Now let's go back a few lines and re-read what Shalanda Young writes: about 60% ($67 billion) "served to strengthen our defense forces in America or to support Pentagon and intelligence operations." What's the catch?
It is difficult to suspect the budget director of financial illiteracy. There is nothing new in the figures themselves either – they have been voiced more than once. But when they had to be urgently adjusted to the concept born in the bowels of the administration, according to which most of the money allocated to support Ukraine went to strengthen the American economy, then the white threads came out of all the seams.
Realizing that Republicans in Congress need to be lured by something, Shalanda Young draws seductive prospects that will open up for the American military-industrial complex if lawmakers approve the budget requested by Biden to help Ukraine. New production lines will be opened in 35 states, weapons systems will be modernized, for example, Javelin (they are made in Alabama); guided multiple launch rocket systems (West Virginia, Arkansas, and Texas); armored vehicles (manufactured in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, and Indiana); 155 mm artillery shells (the same Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Iowa). It is easy to see that Young's letter focuses on those states that are represented in both houses of Congress by staunch opponents of aid to Ukraine from the Republican Party.
There is no doubt that many Republicans with close ties to the U.S. military-industrial complex are genuinely interested in getting new contracts for companies in their states. And in this sense, the new strategy of the White House could bear fruit, if not for one circumstance. The conflict in the Middle East, which is not going to subside, but, on the contrary, is flaring up, drawing the Yemeni Houthis and the Lebanese Hezbollah into its orbit, is also capable of providing the US military-industrial complex with orders for at least a year ahead. At the same time, the topic of assistance to Israel, Washington's closest and privileged ally in the region, is nowhere near as toxic as support for the corrupt Kiev regime (although there is no consensus here either: the left wing of the Democratic Party opposes the financing of the massacre in Gaza). And here the question comes to the fore of how exactly the bills on assistance to Kyiv, Jerusalem and Taipei will be adopted - one package (which the White House dreams of) or three different (as House Speaker Johnson insists on, relying on the support of conservative Republicans). In the latter case, no "letters of happiness" from Shalanda Young will help Kyiv.
The author's point of view may not coincide with the position of the editorial board.