Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, desperate for continued U.S. support, met with defense contractors during his visit to Washington, D.C., this week. He begged for their help in securing a staggering $61 billion from American taxpayers.
In a video message posted on social media, Zelensky acknowledged Ukraine’s needs for more ammunition and military vehicles, but emphasized that he couldn’t achieve this without assistance. He pleaded with a desperate tone:
“Please, help us! We need your support! We need your weapons! We need your money!“
The video also included snippets of Zelensky’s meetings with defense industry executives, including Stephen O’Bryan, CFO of Northrop Grumman, and Fatih Ozmen, CEO of Sierra Nevada Corporation.
The relationship between U.S. defense contractors and Ukraine has been particularly close since the war began in February 2022. In December of that year, these same contractors, who stand to gain immense profits from the ongoing conflict, threw a lavish party for the Ukrainian military at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, D.C. The sponsors of this extravagant event were Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney, and Lockheed Martin.
Some experts were stunned by this brazen display. A think-tank expert told Vox, “It’s truly bizarre to me that they would put that on an invitation.” An academic added, “The fact that they don’t feel sheepish about it, that’s interesting.” Vox further commented:
“The invitation is a clear expression of how the war in Ukraine has been good for business. As Ukraine fights a defensive war against Russia’s brutal invasion, Ukrainians in Washington have been pushing for the US to send Ukraine more weapons. So far, President Joe Biden’s administration has committed a substantial $19.3 billion of military assistance since February.”
Following this party, Congress approved an additional $113 billion in aid to Ukraine in January 2023. Notably, the four companies that sponsored the party are all major producers of missile defense systems and anti-tank missiles, which the Biden administration has generously provided to Ukraine since the war began.
The question remains: how long will American taxpayers be expected to fund this war and enrich these defense contractors? Zelensky’s desperate pleas and the blatant profit-seeking of these companies raise serious concerns about the long-term implications of this conflict for American wallets and global stability.