American Lend-Lease for Ukraine is one of the top topics in the arsenal of russian propaganda. In an attempt to undermine trust in the Ukrainian authorities and Western partners, pro-russian Telegram channels promote the narrative that Lend-Lease is apparently one of the mechanisms of “external management” of Ukraine. Anonymous authors on social networks persistently claim that the USA is using Ukraine as a testing ground, and with the Lend-Lease law they are dragging it into huge debts.
What does American Lend-Lease actually mean for Ukraine?
☝️ Lend-Lease is a US state program that last operated during World War II, when the country supplied weapons and strategic materials to allies from the anti-Hitler coalition, primarily Great Britain and the USSR. This mechanism provided for the transfer of American weapons on the terms of rental or leasing with compensation after the end of the war. However, the goal of Lend-Lease for the Americans was not profit, but a quick victory over the totalitarian regime.
On April 28, 2022, the House of Representatives of the United States Congress voted to provide a lend-lease agreement for Ukraine. On May 9, the “Lend-Lease Act for the Protection of Democracy in Ukraine” was signed by the US President and entered into force on October 1. The signing of the act on May 9 symbolizes Ukraine’s struggle against aggressive russian ideology, which many Ukrainians call “rashism.”
The specified program is valid until September 30, 2023 (with the right of extension). It gives the President of the United States the opportunity (without unnecessary bureaucratic red tape and the need for votes on each aid package in Congress) to make decisions regarding the supply of weapons to Ukraine and the countries of Eastern Europe that suffered from the russian invasion of Ukraine, in order to “help strengthen the defense capabilities of these countries and to protect their civilian population from potential invasion or aggression by the armed forces of the government of the russian federation.” After all, according to American law, the sale or transfer of US weapons to another state has certain restrictions and requires the government to go through a lengthy export procedure to obtain approval. Precisely in order to bypass these restrictions, an algorithm was developed for the transfer of weapons to Ukraine under lend-lease (according to this procedure, the decision to provide weapons is decided within 72 hours).
Why does the USA not provide weapons to Ukraine on a lend-lease basis?
American Lend-Lease weapons have not yet arrived in Ukraine due to a number of reasons. First, Lend-Lease is only a framework promise of Congress and the US President, which confirms the readiness of the United States to support Ukraine and help it win this war. The document does not contain specifics about the quality and quantity of weapons supplied, or a detailed step-by-step analysis of what should be delivered and in what order. The provision of this or that particular type of weapons depends not on the program, but on the political decision of the White House administration.
Secondly, Lend-Lease is not completely free assistance. Its mechanism consists in the possibility of the American side transferring its available defense products to Ukraine for rent or on leasing terms. In other words, the provided weapons after the victory over russia will either have to be returned (survived) or paid for. That is, the volume of supplies of American weapons within the framework of lend-lease directly depends on the financial capabilities of Ukraine, which are currently limited due to the war. And although the US Chargé d’Affaires in Ukraine Christina Quinn assures that Lend-Lease will not lead to the appearance of some crazy debt after the war, at this stage the US prefers to supply Ukraine with material and technical assistance, weapons and ammunition at the expense of its own federal budget . Thus, within the framework of the relevant US law, Ukraine currently receives security and defense assistance under three programs: Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative (USAI), Foreign Military Financing (FMF), and Weapons Replenishment USA” (Replenishment of U.S. weapons stocks). Interaction under these programs takes place on a free basis and, unlike the lend-lease program, does not provide for compensation from Ukraine for the cost of provided weapons, military equipment and ammunition. The American side also initiated the creation of the Contact Group on the Defense of Ukraine, in which 50 countries currently participate.
❗️So, Lend-Lease is an additional tool of military aid to Ukraine from the USA and will work in full force when Ukraine decides that it is needed. Currently, this does not affect the amount of free military aid to Ukraine from the USA and NATO partners. As the head of the President’s Office, A. Yermak, said, lend-lease will definitely work when it is justified and, apart from economic expediency, there are no safeguards and obstacles to its use.