The US House of Representatives is preparing to vote on a bill on the so-called “Lend-Lease” in support of Ukrainian democracy. Three weeks ago, it was almost unanimously approved in the Senate, and if the House is in agreement as well, the program that was last used 80 years ago to help European countries beat the Nazi Germany will come into action once again.
Lend-Lease is a program of ally support by the United States during the war. More weapons, more equipment and other supplies, financial support — this is the support that will help Ukraine not only to resist, but also to liberate its land from the enemy.
How is the United States helping Ukraine with weapons now?
Since the start of the full-scale invasion, the United States has provided more than $3.4 billion in military aid to Ukraine. And before the invasion, the US had delivered another $600 million worth of equipment. These amounts were published by the Pentagon at the end of last week.
These include Stinger anti-aircraft systems and Javelin anti-tank systems, as well as heavy weapons such as 155-mm howitzers, armoured personnel carriers, Mi-17 helicopters and anti-battery weapons. Some other contributions include drones for various purposes, armoured vehicles, small arms, ammunition, body armour, helmets, communications, thermal vision goggles and more.
But the list was not the only important thing: particularly impressive was the speed of approval by the Biden administration. As well as the fact that the Americans were the first to send heavy weapons. And after that, howitzers and anti-aircraft systems went to Ukraine from Canada and European countries.
Why do we need Lend-Lease?
The law on Lend-Lease is required to speed up and simplify delivery of weapons and other assistance to Ukraine, as well as formalize conditions for it. For example, weapons can be leased or payment for them can be deferred.
The law on Lend-Lease itself takes just one A4 page. And the most important part of it is the suspension of restrictions that are prescribed by American law. For example, the law on export control directly says that the US can lease weapons only after the lessee undertakes to compensate for lost or damaged weapons. Lend-Lease makes it possible to bypass this provision.
In addition, the Foreign Aid Act of 1961 stipulates that the duration of military assistance may not exceed five years. US lawmakers are proposing to remove this item as well. This does not necessarily mean that the war will last that long, but rather that the United States is ready to help in the long run.
This law also carries a symbolic aspect. Retaining the name of “Lend-Lease,” the United States is drawing a parallel with World War II, when its help played a big role in the victory over the Nazi Germany. This law clearly indicates who is good and who is evil in this war.
When will the law come into effect?
After the law comes into force, President Joe Biden will have 60 days to develop and implement simplified military assistance procedures for Ukraine. In all likelihood, this will happen much faster.
What will the supply of weapons look like in practice? Ukraine will list what it needs, Washington will approve the items it can provide, and American cargo planes will deliver what is necessary to the neighbouring countries.
Russia tends to downplay the importance of the Lend-Lease program for the end of World War II. Now, the Kremlin will see for itself that timely military aid to Ukraine, which is fighting for the freedom of the entire continent, can turn the tide of the war. And 80 years later, another tyranny that dreamed of dividing Europe will fall.