FACT CHECK: Has The U.S. Spent Twice As Much On Ukraine Aid Than The War In Afghanistan?

Elias Atienza | Senior Reporter

A video shared on Instagram claims the U.S. has spent twice as much on Ukraine aid than the war in Afghanistan.



Verdict: Misleading

While estimates of the cost of the Afghanistan war vary, all of them exceed the current amount of aid authorized for Ukraine.

Fact Check:

The U.S. is preparing a $2 billion military aid package to Ukraine, which includes heavy artillery and long-range munitions, according to Bloomberg News. The U.S. withdrew from Afghanistan in August 2021 after the Afghan national government collapsed and the Taliban took control of the country, PBS reported.

The Instagram video showcases a man calling Ukraine “money laundering.” He claims that the amount of aid is around $91 billion and then claims the amount of aid to Ukraine is “double the U.S. expenditure for its own war in Afghanistan.”

This claim gets several facts incorrect, however. First, the aid to Ukraine is likely understated. Congress authorized several packages that equal about $111 billion, according to PolitiFact. A Council on Foreign Relations analysis of expenditures to Ukraine between January and November 2022 found that 48 percent of approximately $50 billion went to military costs.

Estimates of expenditures for the war in Afghanistan vary, but all exceed $111 billion. Brown University’s Cost of War project estimates that the war in Afghanistan cost $2.3 trillion, including veterans care, interest on “war borrowing” and other costs associated with the war. The Department of Defense estimated in 2020 that spending for the war was around $955 billion, according to BBC News. (RELATED: Image Makes Misleading Claims About Ukraine Aid, Inflation Reduction Act)

The Department of Defense estimated that it spent “$837.3 billion in current dollars for military operations…and reconstruction activities in Afghanistan” between September 2001 and March 2021, according to a September 2021 report from the Congressional Research Service. Mackenzie Eaglen, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, argued in a September 2021 op-ed that there are “plenty of other costs could be related to the war but remain opaque.”

“Plenty of other costs could be related to the war but remain opaque. America’s abrupt departure from Afghanistan is poised to leave a paper trail of penalties for broken contracts, in addition to abandoned materiel and equipment, even before the Taliban reached Kabul on August 15,” Eaglen wrote.

Misinformation regarding the status and cost of the Ukraine war has circulated online since its start in February 2022. Check Your Fact previously debunked a claim making misleading claims about the cost of the war at the time.

Elias Atienza

Senior Reporter
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