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US spending to counter Russian war effort exceeds first 5 years of war costs in Afghanistan

The Biden administration and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have pledged to counter Russia’s war in Ukraine and the threat it poses to European security, and the funds so far committed to Kyiv already exceed U.S. costs for the first five years in Afghanistan. 

The Biden administration on Friday announced another $400 million military drawdown package to Ukraine as it attempts to fend off Russian advances.

The latest package was reportedly tailored in coordination with Ukrainian officials for what they specifically need on the front lines and comes just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed victory over the eastern Luhansk region. 

Heavy artillery like howitzers and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) are among the big-ticket items that Ukraine has said it needs to target Russian command and control hotspots that sit behind the front lines. 

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The Pentagon on Friday confirmed that the U.S. has provided $8 billion in security assistance since Russia’s invasion in February, but Washington has committed to spending far more. 

Earlier this year, Congress committed to spending $54 billion in traditional foreign aid and military assistance in a move to help squash Putin’s offensive.

The funds will largely be divided through traditional channels to support Ukraine but will also provide support to NATO nations and U.S. troops stationed in Europe. 

The majority of the package will be distributed in the immediate term, likely by the end of the year. 

This photograph taken May 10, 2022, shows the Ukrainian Army's self-propelled howitzer loading on a tank transporter near Bakhmut, eastern Ukraine, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

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There are measures in the latest $40 billion package passed in May that could take years to implement, like the procurement of an additional Patriot missile battery that could potentially be built in an allied nation like Poland, according to a report by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. 

It remains unclear how much the U.S. will end up spending in 2022 on countering Putin’s aggression, but, according to information provided by ForeignAssistance.gov, the U.S. has already spent more on security assistance to Ukraine than during the first five years in Afghanistan. 

A Ukrainian soldier rides atop an armored fighting vehicle in eastern Ukraine. 

By the end of 2006, the U.S. had spent more than $7.4 billion in its fight against the Taliban. By 2011, the cost of the 20-year war had reached its peak when it spent $11.4 billion that year alone.

Biden and other western leaders have pledged to continue supporting Ukraine “as long as it takes.”

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