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Late Wednesday night, the US Senate passed a crucial bill for a lend-lease programme that would allow President Joe Biden to better supply Ukraine with arms, ammunition and other necessary materials to defend against Russian military aggression. Such an initiative by US lawmakers could dramatically change the battlefield situation in Ukraine.
The USA first used the Lend-Lease programme during World War II. According to this programme, the USA partially donated ammunition, equipment, food and strategic raw materials, including oil products, to its allies in the war. The concept of the programme gave the President the power to help any country whose defence was deemed vital to the United States. The Lend-Lease Act, passed by the US Congress and signed by President Roosevelt on 11 March 1941, provided that:
– miscellaneous arms and military equipment, raw materials and other items supplied to the Allies that were destroyed, lost or used during the war were not subject to payment;
– lend-lease property, which remained after the war and was suitable for civilian purposes, would be paid in full or in part on long-term loans (mainly interest-free loans) extended by the US.
The main customers of the US were the UK, as well as the USSR and the Commonwealth countries. Lend-Lease was considered a game-changer for the course of the war, as it allowed the US to resupply the Allies without time-consuming procedural hurdles quickly.
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What the Lend-Lease for Ukraine model 2022 could mean in practice.
1. Politically. Senators were quick to support the Lend-Lease proposal because Ukraine had proven that it could defend itself effectively and inflict substantial damage on the enemy. US lawmakers are resorting to actions last used during World War II. This is yet another sign that the US believes that Russian military aggression is not just about Ukraine but about the entire liberal order.
2. Logistically. The Lend-Lease Act for Ukraine would expedite the transfer of essential military equipment and other critical supplies to Ukraine by reducing red tape. It would also allow de facto donations of equipment with provisions stipulating that Ukraine would pay their value to the US later.
3. Militarily. Ukraine is now beginning to realize its significant numerical advantage in personnel. However, due to many people willing to defend their homeland and the loss or depletion of military equipment and ammunition on the battlefield, Ukraine has a particular imbalance in its personnel-arms ratio. And American lend-lease, together with arms deliveries from other countries, should even this disproportion.
The Lend-Lease should qualitatively strengthen Ukraine’s defence capabilities, mainly to provide the Ukrainian military with the weapons they critically need today. First and foremost, this refers to weapons that can destroy what is currently causing the most damage to Ukrainian civilian infrastructure and civilians:
- Russian long-range missiles.
- Long-range artillery.
- Warships from which cruise missiles are launched.
- Aircraft from which cruise missiles are also launched and which bomb.
In other words, missile defense, air defense and anti-ship systems are essential for Ukraine. In addition, supplies of long-range artillery (in particular rocket-propelled artillery) and ammunition for them are vital for the Ukrainian military. As well as a large number of armored track and wheel vehicles, as well as man-portable anti-tank and anti-aircraft missile systems which have already proven themselves on the battlefield.
It is now up to the House of Representatives, after which the bill will go to President Biden for signature. After the President signs it, the applied work will begin. Hopefully, this will happen as soon as possible.
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