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

The recognition comes at a time when Congress is increasingly putting pressure on the Pentagon to show responsibility for the billions of dollars it has sent in weapons, ammunition and equipment (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) (Alex Brandon/)

The Pentagon has overestimated the value of the weapons it has sent to Ukraine at least $3 billion, an accounting error that could be a boon to the war effort because it will allow the Department of Defense send more weapons to kyiv now without asking Congress for more money.

Thursday’s acknowledgment comes at a time when Congress is increasingly pressuring the Pentagon to show accountability for the billions of dollars it has sent in weapons, ammunition and equipment to Ukraine and some lawmakers question whether that level of support should continue.

It could also free up more money for critical weapons., as Ukraine is on the brink of a long-awaited counter-offensive, which will require all the military aid it can get. The President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenskypreviously said the offensive was delayed because they didn’t have everything they needed yet.

The mistake occurred when officials overpriced some of the systems shipped to Ukraine, using the money’s worth it would cost to completely replace an item instead of the weapon’s current value. In many of the military aid packages, the Pentagon has chosen to draw from its stockpiles of older existing equipment because it can get those items to Ukraine faster.

“During our regular process of monitoring the presidential retirement packages, the Department discovered inconsistencies in the valuation of equipment for Ukraine. In some cases, ‘replacement cost’ was used instead of ‘net book value’, thus the value of the equipment withdrawn from US stocks was overestimated,” Pentagon spokeswoman Sabrina Singh said.

He added that the mistake has not restricted US support for Ukraine or hindered the ability to send aid to the battlefield.

FILE - Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian forces (AP Photo/Libkos, File)
FILE – Ukrainian soldiers fire at Russian forces (AP Photo/Libkos, file) (LIBKOS/)

A defense official said the Pentagon is still trying to determine exactly How much will the total surplus 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 aid packages to Ukraine using appropriate cost figures. The result, the official said, will be that the department will have more funding authority available to use as the Ukraine offensive approaches.

To date, the US has provided Ukraine with almost $37 billion in military aid since Russia invaded in February 2022. Most of it has been in weapons systems, millions of ammunition and rounds of ammunition, and assorted trucks, sensors, radars, and other equipment removed from Pentagon stockpiles and sent quickly to Ukraine.

Members of Congress have repeatedly pressed Defense Department leaders about how closely the United States is tracking its aid to Ukraine to make sure it is not subject to fraud or ending up in the wrong hands. The Pentagon has said it has a “robust program” to track aid when it crosses the border into Ukraine and control it once it is there, depending on the sensitivity of each weapon system.

There is also a small team of Americans in the Ukraine that works with Ukrainians to carry out physical inspections when possible, but also virtual inspections when necessary, since those teams do not go to the front.

In late February, the Pentagon’s inspector general said his office has yet to find evidence that billions of dollars in arms and aid to Ukraine have been lost to corruption or diverted into the wrong hands. He cautioned that those investigations are only in their early stages.

(With information from AP)

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