The war in Ukraine has become a frequent target for commentators who believe that U.S. spending toward the conflict ought to be curbed and reinvested domestically.
The two frontrunners in early polls for the 2024 Republican presidential contenders, former President Donald Trump and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis—who hasn't declared yet but is expected to run—have both said they don't see Ukraine as a vital national strategic interest for the U.S.
Amid this criticism, a figure of $200 billion has been repeatedly quoted as the U.S. total spending toward the country, reportedly its entire GDP.
A tweet by former Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs for the U.S. Department of the Treasury Monica Crowley, posted on April 18, 2023, viewed 32,000 times, stated: "$200 billion+ of your hard-earned money has been disappeared into the corrupt money-pit of Ukraine.
"Happy Tax Day!"
This figure has been repeated by a number of right-leaning politicians and public figures in the past two months including Representative Andy Biggs (R-AZ), former Trump advisor Steve Bannon, and former Republican candidate for Arizona governor Kari Lake.
A February 12, 2023, article by Fox News was among its first appearances, with the authors noting two sources: the presidential office of Ukraine and the Ukraine Support Tracker (produced by economic research organization the Kiel Institute for the World Economy).
However, the Kiel Institute states U.S. spending on all categories of aid has reached around $77 billion, not $200 billion, enacted across four bills since February 2022.
In total, Congress has allocated $113 billion in a combination of mostly military, government, and humanitarian aid to Ukraine since last year, according to the Department of Defense Office of Inspector General.
But, Kiel notes that a "large portion" of this $113 billion "will not flow directly to Ukraine but is instead allocated towards a broad variety of spending purposes."
A working document for the tracker states: "Examples include spending for preemptive natural disaster funds, research on military or nuclear purposes, the prevention of terrorism and cybercrime, national infrastructure investments, large-scale purchases of military goods intended to remain in the US...or funds devoted to host Ukrainian refugees in the US."
In its calculation, Kiel does not include $17 billion earmarked for European command operations, $5 billion for neighboring countries but not Ukraine, and nearly $12 billion in commitments that were unused and therefore expired. Its exclusions result in a revised direct spend of around $77 billion.
Whether Kiel should have deducted that amount may be debatable, but its calculation (or one near the same amount) has been repeated by research organizations including Statista, the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
This strongly suggests that the U.S. has not spent anywhere close to $200 billion. Furthermore, Newsweek has so far been unable to find any statement from the presidential office of Ukraine which supports that higher number—the office has been contacted via email for comment.
André Frank, Project Lead for the Ukraine Support Tracker, told Newsweek that the $200 billion claim was "wrong" and suspected it may have been a misinterpretation of the tracker's data, perhaps by using information from a since-updated database.
Of course, there is a possibility that Crowley's claim may refer to aid provided both before and after the Russian invasion in February 2022. However, the sums committed before February 2022 pale in comparison.
For example, according to the Congressional Research Service, Biden has used Presidential Drawdown Authority to authorize the immediate transfer of articles and services from U.S. stocks (up to a funding cap) to Ukraine valued at $19.2 billion since August 2021. However, of that, only $610 million of that value was authorized between August 2021 and the start of the invasion.
A similar sum was calculated by Kiel, which said the government provided "more than $2.5 billion in security assistance to Ukraine between 2014 and 2021, mainly through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative and Foreign Military Financing."
Kiel added that the U.S. Department of State and USAID also provided "more than $3 billion in bilateral, non-military aid since 2014."
This would mean that even if we included funding before the war, on top of the full $113 billion Congressionally approved allocations for Ukraine, the figure still wouldn't reach even close to $200 billion.
Nonetheless, the claim was repeated later in February this year, although neither the statement from the presidential office of Ukraine nor Kiel's tracker was quoted.
On Tucker Carlson Tonight, in February 2023, Carlson alleged that $123 billion had been committed by Congress so far and that "when you add a thousand other off-the-book sources of aid, the entire intel world, you're looking at perhaps $200 billion to Zelensky and his wife in 12 months."
For a start, the implication that the said money (much of which was in fact the estimated monetary worth of outdated military equipment and weapons the U.S. was already planning to discard) went to Zelensky or his family, rather than Ukraine's military or financial authorities, are not based in fact.
As Newsweek has previously reported, they fail to acknowledge the auditing and scrutiny that U.S. foreign aid receives to ensure that it is spent appropriately on measures relating to Ukrainian assistance.
Furthermore, $10 billion in the now-former Fox News hosts' $123 billion calculation was based on spending plans that Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen announced to the G20 earlier this year.
The U.S. Treasury told Newsweek that the $10 billion was part of the approved Congressional spending, not a new sum to be added to an existing figure.
As for the other "thousand other off-the-book sources of aid", Carlson does not elaborate on whether these are from governmental or private sources of aid. Newsweek contacted a Fox News representative via email for clarification.
Without knowing what those extra "off the book" sources are, we can't conclude that the $200 billion figure (whether it's real or not) comes from U.S. taxpayers either (as Crowley's tweet suggests). Without direct evidence, Carlson's claim versus that of multiple spending researchers does not appear to be credible.
In any case, there is no evidence to support the notion that the U.S. has spent $200 billion, with expert research indicating that total direct spending has not even reached the $100 billion mark, let alone double that number.
A spokesperson for the Executive Office of the (U.S.) President said the $200 billion figure "doesn't seem to be correct", adding "I think $90b would be more accurate."
Congress has only approved $113 billion for spending in Ukraine. Researchers tracking spending suggest that only around $77 billion has gone directly to Ukraine, a combination of financial, military and other forms of aid.
It's not clear where the $200 billion figure has come from. A Fox News report in February 2023 attributed it to a Ukrainian government statement that Newsweek could not find. Another estimate broadcast on Tucker Carlson Tonight the same month was presented without evidence and upon inspection appears dubious.
FACT CHECK BY Newsweek's Fact Check team
The United States has given the most in grants, valued at 25 billion euros ($26.5 billion).When the US leads the rest of the world with $196 billion given to Ukraine amid war with Russia? ›
According to the Ukrainian government, the U.S. leads all countries with $196 billion in total military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine from Jan. 24-Nov. 20, 2022.How much humanitarian aid has the US sent Ukraine? ›
Since Russia's further invasion began on February 24, the United States has provided more than $688 million in humanitarian assistance to respond to the needs of people in Ukraine and those who have fled to neighboring countries.How much aid has Germany given to Ukraine? ›
Since the start of the Russian invasion, the German government has made available more than 14.2 billion euros in support for Ukraine, according to the foreign office.How much money has Canada given to Ukraine? ›
Canada has trained 35,000 Ukrainian personnel through Operation UNIFIER, we have donated over $1 billion in military aid, and our Canadian Armed Forces personnel have transported over seven million pounds of Ukraine-bound donations.Did the U.S. pledge $2.6 billion more in weapons aid to Ukraine? ›
WASHINGTON, April 4 (Reuters) - The U.S. unveiled $2.6 billion worth of military assistance that includes three air surveillance radars, anti-tank rockets and fuel trucks, the Pentagon announced on Tuesday, as Ukraine prepares a spring offensive against invading Russian forces.Is the U.S. providing Ukraine with $2.6 billion in military aid? ›
The United States has announced a new $2.6 billion [€2.3 billion] military aid package to Ukraine, bringing the total amount of Washington's security assistance to Kyiv to more than $35.1 billion [€32 billion] since the war began.Does the U.S. rely on Ukraine for anything? ›
In 2018, of the $1.4 billion in U.S. imports from Ukraine, the top commodity sectors were Base Metals (68.4%), Agriculture (9.3%), and Machinery and Mechanical Appliances (5.7%).How much has NATO given to Ukraine? ›
Since Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the 30 members of the military alliance have committed at least $80bn worth of military, humanitarian and financial aid to Kyiv.How much military aid has the US given to Ukraine since 2014? ›
Since 2014, the United States has provided more than $38.1 billion in security assistance for training and equipment to help Ukraine preserve its territorial integrity, secure its borders, and improve interoperability with NATO.
Military donations worth DKK 4.2 billion (€565 million) from February 2022 to January 2023, of which only some details have been provided, but including: DKK 300 million (€40 million) to the UK led military equipment for Ukraine fund on 21 December 2022.
The countries who voted against were Belarus, North Korea, Nicaragua, Russia and Syria.Which countries are sending tanks to Ukraine? ›
The US, the UK and Germany are sending tanks, and Germany has allowed other Western countries to send its homemade tanks from their fleets, but this doesn't appear to have silenced Kyiv's call for heavy weapons.How many tanks is Ukraine getting? ›
The Defense Department announced in January that 31 M1A2 Abrams tanks would be delivered to Ukraine, but officials had speculated it would take about a year to make that happen.What is the US new aid package to Ukraine? ›
The United States is sending $300 million (€272 million) in fresh military aid to Ukraine including air-to-ground rockets, artillery rounds, howitzers, and ammunition ahead of an anticipated spring counteroffensive.How many tanks are being sent to Ukraine? ›
The United States has promised to send 31 Abrams tanks but they are not expected to arrive until the end of the year. Germany's Leopard 2 tanks are said to be the best option for Ukraine, as they are easier to operate and are used by 20 governments across the world.How much foreign aid does the US give? ›
Foreign aid obligations made by the U.S. reached $51 billion in 2020, more than the nearly $49 billion it sent out in 2019, but less than in recent previous years, when conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq drove large portions of the funding, in constant dollars.Who is Russia's best friend? ›
Similarly, a 2017 opinion poll by the Moscow-based non-governmental think tank Levada-Center states that Russians identified India as one of their top five "friends", with the others being Belarus, China, Kazakhstan and Syria.How many countries are giving support to Ukraine? ›
Donors. As of February 2023, military aid was donated by EU institutions, 45 sovereign countries, companies, and other parties.Does China support Russia? ›
China has become an increasingly important trading partner for Russia as it seeks to soften the impact of economic sanctions imposed by some countries in response to its invasion.