Pentagon accounting error could give Ukraine extra $3bn in US weapons

A massive accounting error by the US Defense Department could allow an extra $3bn in American-made weapons to be delivered to Ukraine’s defence forces in the coming months.

Two senior American officials told Reuters on Thursday that the Pentagon had overestimated the value of ammunition, missiles and other military materiel that has already been sent to Kyiv, leaving a $3bn deficit between what was believed to have been delivered and what was actually delivered to arm Ukrainian forces in their fight against Russian invaders.

“We’ve discovered inconsistencies in how we value the equipment that we’ve given,” said one of the officials, who added that Congress will soon be officially notified of the bookkeeping screw-up.

One defence official also said it’s still possible that the amount by which the US has overvalued the aid packages it has already delivered could grow beyond the current $3bn estimate.

The Pentagon officials who spoke to Reuters said the overvaluation was introduced into the process for assigning values to weapons being shipped to Ukraine when the Defense Department erroneously calculated totals using the estimated cost to replace the weapons that were being provided from existing US stockpiles.

Instead, the Pentagon should have assigned monetary values based on the original cost of the weapons, minus value subtracted to account for depreciation in the years between the original purchase date and when they were taken out of the US inventory to be sent to Ukraine.

The updated — and presumably lower — value of the defence aid packages that have already been provided to the Ukrainian government could give the Biden administration more time before it must ask Congress to authorise additional aid for Kyiv.

To date, the Ukrainian government has benefited from approximately $21bn in American defence aid, including High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) launchers, Javelin anti-tank weapons and two Patriot surface-to-air missile batteries.