Aid to Ukraine Exceeds Cost of 2011 Afghanistan Surge

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky addresses the US Congress as US Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) hold a Ukrainian national flag that Zelensky gave them at the US Capitol in Washington, DC on December 21, 2022. - Zelensky is in Washington to meet with …
MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

American aid to Ukraine has eclipsed the annual expenditure of “endless” wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

As the protracted war between Ukraine and Russia continues unabated, congressional lawmakers and President Joe Biden have appropriated $110 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine.

Some pro-Ukraine advocates have contended that the costs of aiding Ukraine’s fight with Russia amounts to “peanuts” in “grand strategy terms.”

Trita Parsi, the executive vice president of the noninterventionist Quincy Institute, disputed the narrative from these pro-aid analysts.

Anthony Cordesman, emeritus chair of strategy at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote last year that the “costs of such aid are low in grand strategic terms.”

Timothy Ash, a fellow at the Chatham House, wrote, “It’s Costing Peanuts for the U.S. to Defeat Russia.”

Ash argued that “from numerous perspectives, when viewed from a bang-per-buck perspective, U.S. and Western support for Ukraine is an incredibly cost-effective investment. … A Russia continually mired in a war it cannot win is a huge strategic win for the U.S. Why would anyone object to that?”


Emergency workers clear the rubble after a Russian rocket hit a multistory building leaving many people under debris in the southeastern city of Dnipro, Ukraine, Saturday, January 14, 2023. (AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka)

Parsi contended that the annual cost of the aid provided to Ukraine has surpassed the annual cost of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars:

The cost of the war thus far is not, contrary to Ash, “peanuts.” The U.S. support for Ukraine in 2022 amounted to $68 billion, and the White House requested another $34 billion. In comparison, the war in Afghanistan cost $23 billion per year in its first two years. In 2011, at the height of the surge, the war cost $107 billion. The Iraq War cost $54.4 billion and $91.5 billion in its first two years, respectively. According to the Cost of War project at Brown University, the failed global “war on terror” cost $8 trillion and caused more than 900,000 deaths over the course of 20 years.

The Associated Press

U.S. Marines direct a chinook helicopter arriving to pick up a container with supplies at Forward Operating Base Edi in the Helmand Province of southern Afghanistan on June 9, 2011. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)

Parsi also charged that America and the West’s unending support for Ukraine has helped form an alliance between Russia, China, and Iran:

There are other strategic costs. As the war drags on, it contributes to the formation of a Russian-Chinese-Iranian alliance. While Putin likely is disappointed in Beijing’s lukewarm support for his war, the two countries have intensified their collaboration on several fronts, including with Iran. It is “only natural” that countries facing pressure from the U.S. would move closer together, a Chinese diplomat told Axios. This is even more true when it comes to Russian-Iranian relations, which have assumed a more strategic character in the past year, with Tehran providing drones and potentially also missiles to the Russian war effort (a path U.S. officials don’t believe Tehran would have taken had Trump never left the Iran nuclear deal).


This file handout picture provided by the Iranian military on May 28, 2022, reportedly shows military unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs or drones) at an underground base in an undisclosed location in Iran (IRANIAN ARMY OFFICE VIA AFP)

The cost of providing seemingly endless aid to Ukraine also exceeds the annual military budget every country in the world except the United States and China.

Breitbart News reported that “aid to Ukraine eclipsed”:

  1. American aid to any country in one year since “at least” the Vietnam War
  2. Russia’s 2023 $84 billion military budget
  3. Every country’s military budget except for China and the United States
  4. American aid for communities affected by drought, hurricanes, flooding, wildfire, and natural disasters — by $4 billion

American aid to Ukraine also nearly matches the combined baseline spending for the State Department and the Department of Homeland Security combined.

Aid to Ukraine is almost as much as the $118 billion “the United States will spend on medical care for all U.S. military veterans.”

Sean Moran is a policy reporter for Breitbart News. Follow him on Twitter @SeanMoran3.


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