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Ukraine appeals to Washington to extend Lend-Lease into 2024: Significance behind the request

Ukraine appeals to Washington to extend Lend-Lease into 2024: Significance behind the request Oksana Makarova, Ambassador of Ukraine to Washington (Photo: Vitalii Nosach, RBC-Ukraine)

According to the interview of Oksana Makarova, Ambassador of Ukraine to Washington, to Suspilne media, Ukraine has formally requested an extension of the Lend-Lease program from the United States for the year 2024. This appeal comes as part of Ukraine's broader strategy to maintain essential military aid, particularly in light of its ongoing security concerns.

The United States Congress has repeatedly made adjustments to its budget, allocating aid to Ukraine through three key military programs. However, an equally critical element, the Lend-Lease provision, remains essential for Ukraine's military capabilities.

"President Biden has introduced new budget amendments to allocate additional financial support to Ukraine. The hope is that the Ukrainian delegation's efforts will persuade Congress to endorse and approve these changes. The absence of this mechanism could jeopardize any future arms allocations from the United States," she stated.

Markarova asserted the importance of maintaining the Lend-Lease provision, which is set to expire at the end of September.

"Proposed amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), a crucial military budget, have already passed in the House of Representatives. The Senate is now in the process of considering these amendments, with expectations for a conference between the two chambers to synchronize the legislative efforts," Ambassador added.

Explaining the significance of Lend-Lease

Ambassador Markarova elaborated on the critical role that the Lend-Lease program plays in Ukraine's defense strategy.

"While Ukraine does not directly purchase the supplied weaponry from the United States, the Pentagon must possess the authority to allocate these resources under budgetary regulations. Without the proper authority, alternative avenues such as leasing agreements could be explored. The Lend-Lease Act ensures that Ukraine receives military aid akin to what is allocated through the Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA). As such, the Lend-Lease Act stands as a vital instrument in sustaining Ukraine's defense capabilities," Makarova explained.

Markarova noted that Ukraine's request for an extension of the Lend-Lease program is being addressed by Congress. However, American legislators are also clear in expressing that their present focus remains on the continuation of budgetary aid.

"Over the past two years, congressional adjustments to the budget have already designated $113 billion for Ukraine, including provisions linked to NATO's Eastern flank and other allied countries. Of this amount, $66 billion has already been disbursed. While prioritizing maximum budgetary changes and aid, Ukraine's request for an extended Lend-Lease Act persists, allowing for an additional layer of support in the eventuality of security needs," she said.

Oksana Markarova underscores that if these deliberations extend over several months, a hiatus could arise between the depletion of already allocated funds and the forthcoming disbursements.

"We cannot afford such a pause. Therefore, even if resorting to leasing or renting, these obligations will reflect on our balance sheet. They will need to be reimbursed and compensated for. However, if the choice is between no weaponry or leasing it, we will certainly opt for leasing," Markarova emphasized.

Lend-Lease Act

Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act, signed into law by U.S. President Joe Biden on May 9, 2022, holds significant importance for Ukraine's security landscape. Among its provisions, the act expands the authority of the U.S. President in facilitating military aid agreements with Ukraine. Notably, it streamlines the process for lending or leasing military equipment, easing the burden of export controls.

Under this act, the White House gains the capability to supply Ukraine with weaponry, technology, ammunition, and dual-use goods through an expedited procedure, bypassing the necessity for specific Congressional appropriations.

The Lend-Lease program's historical significance is rooted in its World War II implementation, where the United States provided military aid to allies combating Nazi Germany, primarily the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union.

The United States did not extend Lend-Lease aid to Ukraine due to the absence of such dire circumstances. Instead, all assistance provided to Ukraine has been given without charge.