WHY LEND-LEASE IS NOT WORKING5 min read
Commentators on Oleksiy Arestovych’s Russian-language posts on Twitter (@Arestovych) are questioning also in Russian: “Dear Aleksey, a Lend-Lease that has not been earned is worth thousands of Ukrainian lives. Why do neither the leadership of Ukraine nor bloggers say anything about this?”
More people in the social media are wondering about it as well. So, we tried to study this matter. Here is the story of Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022, as it’s known in the short title:
The full title of this document is A bill to provide enhanced authority for the President to enter into agreements with the Government of Ukraine to lend or lease defense articles to that Government to protect civilian populations in Ukraine from Russian military invasion, and for other purposes.
The bill was first introduced in the US Senate January 19, 2022. April 6, the bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. The very same day it passed the Senate voting. On April 28, the bill was voted on in the House of Representatives. May 9, the bill was signed by President Joe Biden and became Public Law No: 117-118.
More details on the history of this bill can be found here: All Info — S.3522 — 117th Congress (2021-2022): Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 | Congress.gov | Library of Congress.
Here is what the bill 117–118 says;
“This bill temporarily waives certain requirements related to the President’s authority to lend or lease defense articles if the defense articles are intended for Ukraine’s government or the governments of other Eastern European countries affected by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
For FY2022 and FY2023, an agreement to lend or lease defense articles under this bill shall not be subject to certain requirements and provisions that typically apply to such lend-lease agreements, including a requirement that generally prohibits a loan or lease period from exceeding five years.
The President must establish expedited procedures to ensure the timely delivery of defense articles loaned or leased to Ukraine under this bill”.
[117th Congress Public Law 118]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[[Page 136 STAT. 1184]]
Public Law 117-118
To provide enhanced authority for the President to enter into agreements
with the Government of Ukraine to lend or lease defense articles to that
Government to protect civilian populations in Ukraine from Russian
military invasion, and for other purposes. <>
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, <>
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the ``Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease
Act of 2022''.
SEC. 2. LOAN AND LEASE OF DEFENSE ARTICLES TO THE GOVERNMENTS OF
UKRAINE AND EASTERN FLANK COUNTRIES.
(a) Authority To Lend or Lease Defense Articles to Certain
(1) <> In general.--Subject to
paragraph (2), for fiscal years 2022 and 2023, the President may
authorize the United States Government to lend or lease defense
articles to the Government of Ukraine or to governments of
Eastern European countries impacted by the Russian Federation's
invasion of Ukraine to help bolster those countries' defense
capabilities and protect their civilian populations from
potential invasion or ongoing aggression by the armed forces of
the Government of the Russian Federation.
(2) Exclusions.--For the purposes of the authority described
in paragraph (1) as that authority relates to Ukraine, the
following provisions of law shall not apply:
(A) Section 503(b)(3) of the Foreign Assistance Act
of 1961 (22 U.S.C. 2311(b)(3)).
(B) Section 61 of the Arms Export Control Act (22
(3) Condition.--Any loan or lease of defense articles to the
Government of Ukraine under paragraph (1) shall be subject to
all applicable laws concerning the return of and reimbursement
and repayment for defense articles loan or leased to foreign
(4) Delegation of authority.--The President may delegate the
enhanced authority under this subsection only to an official
appointed by the President by and with the advice and consent of
(b) <> Procedures for Delivery of Defense
Articles.--Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of
this Act, the President shall establish expedited procedures for the
delivery of any defense article loaned or leased to the Government of
[[Page 136 STAT. 1185]]
under an agreement entered into under subsection (a) to ensure timely
delivery of the article to that Government.
(c) Definition of Defense Article.--In this Act, the term ``defense
article'' has the meaning given that term in section 47 of the Arms
Export Control Act (22 U.S.C. 2794).
Approved May 9, 2022.
LEGISLATIVE HISTORY--S. 3522:
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD, Vol. 168 (2022):
Apr. 6, considered and passed Senate.
Apr. 28, considered and passed House.
DAILY COMPILATION OF PRESIDENTIAL DOCUMENTS (2022):
May 9, Presidential remarks.
In the text of the Law it’s very important to pay attention to the following words:
“Not later than 60 days after the date of the enactment of
this Act, the President shall establish expedited procedures for the delivery of any defense article loaned or leased to the Government of Ukraine”.
This is the paragraph that gave a reason to hope that after two months, i.e. already in the middle of July, Ukraine will have the opportunity to receive from the USA any weapons necessary for Ukraine to protect the civilian population and liberate the occupied territories.
July 14, the White House explained aid to Ukraine through lend-lease this way:
“”At the moment, we are prioritizing security assistance for Ukraine, for which they will not have to pay back later”, John Kirby, a White House official said.
According to him, the Lend-Lease program provides that the equipment received is paid for, while other programs under which the United States provides assistance to Ukraine, such as the USAI (Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative) and the Presidential Drawdown Authority program, do not stipulate a refund.
National Security Council and Strategic Communications Coordinator John Kirby said the administration is still reviewing the Lend-Lease powers. At the same time, he recalled that last week Biden signed the allocation of a new package of military aid to Ukraine worth $400 million. “We already have many powers, and we use them,” the official added.
These explanations did not bring clarity to the fate of Lend-Lease. In the mass media and social networks, Ukrainians from Ukraine and the diaspora often ask the question: “Why is Lend-Lease not working?”
We continued to search for a simple and conscious answer to this question. There is a big difference between free military aid, which the Biden administration has chosen to focus on, and lend-lease. In the first case, Ukraine can ask for something, but will count only on what will be given. Lend-Lease makes it possible to order and receive in the required quantity whatever is needed for the effective performance of combat tasks.
The answer came unexpectedly from a member of a group of diplomats who are directly involved in the process of providing US military aid to Ukraine: the Biden administration has decided that it will not use Lend-Lease until Congress allocates funds for aid to Ukraine. But as soon as Congress stops allocating funds, then Lend-Lease will be used.
Interesting, isn’t it? This is how President Joe Biden is using his powers granted by Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 not to strengthen and expand US aid to Ukraine, but actually to hold it back.
On the photo: President Joe Biden is signing Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 into law.