Pentagon Backs Up Biden's Claim That Arming Ukraine Helps The U.S. Economy

Arkansas and New Mexico each have seen more than $2 billion committed to making new weapons, replacing old ones or upgrading facilities.

A handful of states have seen more than $1 billion in Defense Department contracts sent their way as part of the effort to arm Ukraine while it fights off an invasion by Russia, according to a Pentagon document released Wednesday.

Arkansas topped the list, as home to companies with about $2.34 billion in contracts to provide new weaponry to Ukraine, replace existing U.S. weapons that were sent to Ukraine, or upgrade their infrastructure to help future production.

The Pentagon document, dated Nov. 22 and titled “Ukraine Security Assistance,” gives an overview of the military portion of U.S. assistance to Ukraine, which totaled about 69.5 billion euros (equivalent to $76.3 billion) committed through September, according to the Germany-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy. The Pentagon estimated that about $44 billion in security assistance has been provided to Ukraine.

The three-page Pentagon summary gives an overview of how and where roughly $30.6 billion of that military aid, as a portion of overall aid, is being spent. The U.S. has also sent Ukraine humanitarian and financial aid.

More than half of the $30.6 billion approved by Congress — $16.8 billion — has gone toward replenishing U.S. stocks of weapons sent to Ukraine, according to the document, whose release was previously reported by Reuters.

President Joe Biden has touted the economic benefits of defense production as a major part of his justification for a catchall $106 billion spending bill that would combine aid for Ukraine, Israel, Gaza and the Indo-Pacific region, along with a boost in funding for U.S. border security.

But that bill is being blocked by Republicans who want border policy changes as a condition for allowing Ukraine aid to advance.

“We send Ukraine equipment sitting in our stockpiles. And when we use the money allocated by Congress, we use it to replenish our own stores — our own stockpiles with new equipment — equipment that defends America and is made in America,” Biden said during a speech in October when he unveiled the supplemental spending bill.

“Just as in World War II, today, patriotic American workers are building the arsenal of democracy and serving the cause of freedom.”

The Pentagon document doesn’t specify which weapons are produced in which states, though many are well known. For example, two plants in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania — the area where Biden grew up — produce 155-millimeter artillery shells used by Ukraine. The U.S. Army said it has doubled monthly production of shells since last year, and that type of production boosts local economies as new buildings are constructed and workers hired.

In Arkansas, the Pentagon said, $1.64 billion went to new weapons and replacing ones provided to Ukraine, with an additional $703 million going to infrastructure upgrades for prime contractors and critical suppliers involved in arming the European country.

The state with the next-biggest amount in contracts was New Mexico, with $2.08 billion in combined weaponry and upgrade investments. Others with more than $1 billion included Pennsylvania at $1.98 billion, California at $1.53 billion, Texas at $1.48 billion and Florida at $1.11 billion.

Overall, since the start of the war in Ukraine, the Pentagon said it has provided the country with more than 2 million 155 mm rounds of artillery, more than 2,000 Stinger anti-aircraft missiles, more than 10,000 Javelin anti-tank missiles, and close to 200 Bradley and 200 Stryker fighting vehicles.

Russia illegally annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 and began a full-scale invasion of the country on Feb. 24, 2022. Despite widespread expectations that it would fall quickly, Ukraine mounted stiff resistance and regained much of its lost territory later in the year.

The battle lines have remained static through much of 2023, despite a late-summer counteroffensive by Ukraine. Still, it has won back about 50% of the land Russia originally captured in the invasion, the U.S. says.

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