The Past, Present, and Future of U.S. Assistance to Ukraine: A Deep Dive into the Data
In early August, the Biden administration sent a supplemental appropriations request to Capitol Hill for $24 billion in assistance for Ukraine. Supplemental appropriations provide additional funding during the course of a fiscal year outside of the regular appropriations process. This mechanism is typically used to respond to urgent and unanticipated needs. The fate of this request is in flux as House Republicans are struggling to agree on a broader approach to keep the federal government open past its quickly approaching funding deadline on September 30. Even if House Republicans manage to come to an agreement, they are miles apart from the Senate and the administration—including Senate Republicans.
Q1: Since the start of the war, how much funding has Congress appropriated for Ukraine?
A1: To date, Congress has passed four spending packages in response to Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine— $113 billion in total. The $113 billion spans agencies and bureaus and provides for much-needed support in areas including military equipment, migration and refugee assistance, energy, and countering disinformation.
The Department of Defense (DOD) has received a majority—54.7 percent, or $61.8 billion—of the appropriations across the four supplemental packages, to date. The DOD has received the most funding in every supplemental cycle, ranging from 47 to 63 percent each time. The second-largest sum of funds went to the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) at 32.3 percent of appropriated funds. Only 8.8 percent of the total funds appropriated have gone to the Department of State—primarily for refugee assistance and foreign military financing. The remaining funds appropriated to other U.S. government agencies makes up less than 5 percent of the total. The Department of Commerce and the U.S. Agency for Global Media are the only two agencies for which no funds were allocated after the first supplemental.
For a deeper dive, funding across the spending packages can be found in the interactive graphs below:
Q2: Did all $113 billion go to Ukraine?
A2: No, it is important to note that not all of this funding has gone to Ukraine. A good proportion of this funding is being spent in the United States, or on U.S. personnel. For example, across the four supplementals, over $421 million has been spent across military services on salaries for U.S. troops that are preparing to be or currently deployed in Europe. Additional funds have been appropriated for salaries and expenses at departments across the federal government, including the Justice, Treasury, and Energy Departments for activities such as sanctions enforcement and war crime investigations.
A majority of the weapons and equipment transfers to Ukraine have occurred under Presidential Drawdown Authority (PDA). This allows the United States to pull from weapons and equipment in stockpiles to rapidly deliver defense articles in times of crisis. The supplemental packages have appropriated $25.93 billion to replenish stocks depleted under PDA. Not only is this money being used to reinvigorate the U.S. defense industrial base, but it is also giving the Department of Defense the opportunity to procure more modern and advanced equipment.
Additionally, money appropriated across the four supplemental packages has gone to support other countries in the region impacted by Putin’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Through USAID, the United States provided $300 million to help Moldova transition away from its total dependence on Russian energy.
Q3: How is the administration directing U.S. assistance?
A3: While Congress holds the power of the purse, it is the administration’s prerogative to decide how the money is directed within the broader accounts unless it is otherwise spelled out in legislation. This gives the executive branch discretion on how to allocate funding within an account.
For example, in the second supplemental appropriations for Ukraine under the heading “Missile Procurement, Army,” the bill states, “$450,000,000, to remain available until September 30, 2025, to respond to the situation in Ukraine and for related expenses.” It is ultimately the responsibility of the Army to decide the type and quantity of systems to procure with those funds.
Since the four supplemental appropriations packages directed funding at over half a dozen departments and agencies, each entity must track and report how they are expending funds. This makes it complicated to get a comprehensive picture of how the administration is obligating assistance.
The Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs maintains a comprehensive webpage detailing how the $44.4 billion in security assistance to Ukraine is being directed. USAID made public a report to Congress detailing how the $13 billion in direct budget support to the government of Ukraine appropriated in the first three supplementals has been spent. However, detailed information can be challenging to find.
The German-based Kiel Institute for the World Economy tracks broad categories of aid pledged to Ukraine across donor countries. It also ranks donors on data transparency. The United States does not fare particularly well in comparison to partner nations, with a score of 2.9 out of 5, which is on the lower end of the spectrum. There are two primary drivers of this—one being the lack of a dedicated website to track support and the lack of regularly available data on total support given to Ukraine by the U.S. government.
This should be remedied. While the Department of Defense, Department of State and USAID release information on their respective obligations of supplemental funding, an effort to centralize this data and make it more easily accessible would be welcome.
Q4: What are the oversight mechanisms for U.S. assistance?
A4: To date, Congress has appropriated a total of $42 million to support oversight of U.S. assistance to Ukraine for the Government Accountability Office (GAO), and the Offices of the Inspectors General (OIG) for the Departments of State, Defense and USAID. The three OIGs have collaborated closely, issuing a Joint Strategic Oversight Plan for FY 2023 outlining their planned workstreams for the fiscal year. Oversight efforts could be improved should the Department of State increase the cap on U.S. government personnel authorized to be in country and dedicate additional slots to the OIGs.
Legislation has been introduced in both the House and the Senate to establish a Special Inspector General for Ukraine, similar to those set up for Iraq and Afghanistan. This approach attempts to create a parallel that has little basis in reality. For example, after decades of war in Afghanistan, the interim government that assumed power in 2001 lacked the capacity to manage the immense amounts of aid—over $146 billion in 10 years. Additionally, decades of war and severe repression under the Taliban resulted in a stunted civil society sector that lacked the capacity to provide external transparency and accountability. Further, some have suggested that the Special Inspectors General in Iraq and Afghanistan provided a chilling effect on U.S. assistance efforts, reducing the appetite to take smart risks.
This is not the case in Ukraine where civil society and the government have demonstrated that they have the capacity to provide a level of accountability and transparency in fighting corruption. While Ukraine, undoubtedly, still has significant problems with corruption, both the government and business sector have shown signs of being serious about pushing institutional reforms to combat corruption. Since the 2014 Maidan Revolution, Ukraine has implemented a string of reforms aimed at combating corruption. According to the head of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau of Ukraine, together with the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutors Office, nearly 300 investigations have been launched and a record 58 indictments have been sent to court in the last year. This includes a recent investigation implicating the first deputy minister for agrarian policy and a former deputy minister of economy involved in a corruption scandal around the procurement of food aid.
President Zelensky has personally taken steps to crackdown on corruption—firing regional military recruitment officials due to allegation of corruption. This progress was validated when in March 2023 the European Council’s Group of States against Corruption removed Ukraine from the list of countries deemed “globally unsatisfactory" due to endemic corruption. Additionally, civil society organizations banded together to tackle the challenges of endemic corruption. Following the full-scale Russian invasion, the RISE Coalition was launched to bring “integrity, sustainability and efficiency” to Ukraine’s recovery and reconstruction. The coalition now boasts 40 Ukrainian and international members.
Given both the difference in scale of assistance combined with the established anti-corruption mechanisms in Ukraine, instead of establishing a Special inspector General, Congress could establish a Lead OIG model, where one of the three inspectors general would serve as the Lead in order to streamline coordination and cooperation among the three OIGs with primary responsibility for oversight of aid—in this case USAID, the Department of Defense, and the State Department.
Q5: What’s in the Biden administration’s latest request?
A5: On August 10, President Biden sent a request to Capitol Hill for supplemental appropriations. More broadly, the administration’s funding request included three tranches: Ukraine, border security, and disaster relief. The request included an additional $24 billion in economic and security assistance for Ukraine. Of the $24 billion, over $14 billion is dedicated to security assistance with the remainder going toward economic and humanitarian support.
However, there are a few items within the economic and humanitarian support that can hardly be characterized as aiding the war effort in Ukraine. The administration requested $1 billion for global infrastructure projects to outcompete China. While a laudable goal, this should not be depicted as money to assist Ukraine. The same holds true for the $1.25 billion in support requested for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, which would “provide financing to help countries . . . breaking reliance on the People’s Republic of China (PRC).” An additional $200 million is requested to establish the Countering Russian Malign Actors in Africa Fund to be deployed by USAID to counter the Vagner Group and other related entities. While weakening Russian actors in Africa could arguably have a detrimental impact on Russian capabilities in Ukraine, the connection to Ukraine is loose, at best. If these three accounts are deducted from the overall $24 billion requested, the funds dedicated in support of Ukraine are closer to $21.5 billion.
Q6: How long would the $24 billion requested by the administration last and what are the prospects for additional funding?
A6: If approved, the latest request from the Biden administration is anticipated to last three to four months. This means that the administration will likely send another request to the Hill in January.
It is likely that a supplemental package that will fund military and economic assistance to Ukraine will pass as part of a deal to fund the U.S. government for FY 2024. However, prospects for additional funding beyond that are unclear.
Should Congress pass a Ukraine supplemental at the $24 billion level, that would necessitate another tranche of aid early in 2024. At that point, the United States will be at the beginning of what will be a hotly contested presidential election cycle. Members of the House, who must stand for reelection every two years, will also be in cycle. A year and a half into the war, public support for continued assistance to Ukraine is split, at best, with some polls showing a majority of Americans opposed to continued financial support. This makes it difficult for members of Congress to take repeated votes on continued funding for Ukraine.
However, the Biden administration can help shore up congressional support for Ukraine funding by articulating a clear plan of how U.S. support—in coordination with allies—will lead to victory for Ukraine.
Elizabeth Hoffman is the director of congressional and government affairs and fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C. Jaehyun Han is a research assistant with the iDeas Lab at CSIS. Shivani Vakharia is the associate director for congressional and government affairs at CSIS.