FACT CHECK: Fact Checking Trump’s Recent Claim On US Aid To Ukraine

Christine Sellers | Fact Check Reporter

During a Feb. 20 town hall event with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, 2024 hopeful and former President Donald Trump claimed the U.S. has given over $200 billion in aid to Ukraine amid its ongoing war with Russia, while Europe has given Ukraine $35 billion in aid.

Verdict: Misleading

The U.S. has provided $75 billion to Ukraine, not over $200 billion, and has committed around $113 billion to Ukraine-related aid. The European Union (EU) has provided around $30-$35 billion in military aid, while committed over $156 billion, according to data and experts. One expert said that comparing EU and U.S. aid is not “an apples-to-apples comparison.”

Fact Check:

Trump and President Joe Biden both visited the southern border on the same day, according to the New York Times.

During a Fox News town hall, Trump made the claim after a member of the in-studio audience posed a question about giving “unnecessary” aid to foreign countries, specifically Ukraine. “[The U.S. is] in for over $200 billion. [Europe is] in for $35 billion. It’s a difference of $150 billion. They’ve got to start paying up,” Trump said.

In the first part of his claim, Trump said the U.S. has committed over $200 billion in aid to Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) directed Check Your Fact to a CFR article that notes the U.S. has sent $75 billion in aid to Ukraine, citing data from the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. The data divides the value of aid into humanitarian aid ($1.6 billion), financial aid ($26.4 billion), and total military aid ($46.3 billion). The total military aid is comprised of security assistance ($18.3 billion), weapons and equipment ($23.5 billion) and grants and loans for weapons and equipment ($4.5 billion).

A Congressional Research Service (CRS) Feb. 15 report indicates that under President Joe Biden’s administration, the U.S. has provided “$44.2 billion in security assistance” to Ukraine since February 2022.

Furthermore, a Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) January 2023 blog post states that Congress approved over $113 billion in aid and military assistance to Ukraine in 2022. According to the same post, out of the over $113 billion, $67 billion was designated for defense needs, while the remaining $46 billion was designated for “general Ukrainian government aid, economic support, and aid for refugee resettlement.”

The same post also notes that an additional “$43.7 billion of emergency funding” was included in the Fiscal Year 2023 appropriations package in addition to the $65.8 billion Congress allocated for Ukraine in three separate funding packages.

A Trump spokesperson directed Check Your Fact to a February 2023 Fox News article that claims that the U.S. led the rest of the world in “total military, financial and humanitarian aid to Ukraine from Jan. 24-Nov. 20, 2022” at $196 billion. The article also noted that Germany ranked second in its contributions to Ukraine at $172 billion during the same timeframe and cites the Ukrainian president’s office and the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

An April 2023 fact-check from Newsweek notes that Kiel Institute denied that it stated the U.S. has committed $196 billion to Ukraine and that the $200 billion number is “false.” A representative for the Kiel Institute also denied the claim to Check Your Fact.

“There is not much I can say on these reported numbers from Fox News, as you will clearly see on both our website, where we report headline figures, as well as in our data with detailed information, there is nothing to suggest those numbers reported below,” Pietro Bomprezzi, Project Lead for the Kiel Institute’s Ukraine Support Tracker, told Check Your Fact in an email.

A Fox News spokesperson said that the source for the claim was the Associated Press and directed Check Your Fact to the graph, which is still available on AP.org.

An Associated Press spokesperson directed Check Your Fact to the graph’s sources but did not respond to follow-up media inquiries about whether or not it was incorrect to note the U.S. has given $196 billion to Ukraine.

A spokesperson for the Ukrainian embassy to the United States also provided Check Your Fact with figures for U.S. assistance, saying out of a “total $113.4 billion in emergency appropriations made available by these laws, Congress appropriated about $88.7 billion for assistance to Ukraine and other countries affected by the war.” (Emphasis original, not added by Check Your Fact.)

“Since February 2022, for Ukraine specifically, the Biden Administration has committed $44.2 billion in security assistance$22.9 billion in direct financial assistance, and $2.3 billion in humanitarian assistance. The Administration also has provided assistance for Ukraine’s energy, governance, and agriculture sectors, among others, and to support the needs of Ukrainian refugees in other countries,” the spokesperson said in an email. (Emphasis is original, not from Check Your Fact.)

A State Department spokesperson said to Check Your Fact in an email the “United States has provided more than $79.8 billion in U.S. assistance to Ukraine since 2014, including approximately $74.6 billion since February 24, 2022.” (Emphasis original, not added by Check Your Fact).

“The amount of assistance that we’ve provided to Ukraine is less than half of the overall total received by Ukraine.  Our partners and Allies have provided approximately $119 billion,” the spokesperson said.

In the second part of his claim, Trump said Europe has given $35 billion in aid to Ukraine.

Data collected by the Kiel Institute via its Ukraine Support Tracker indicates that European countries outpace the U.S. in terms of government support provided to Ukraine. Countries belonging to the European Union have committed to giving 144.1 billion euros in total aid, whereas the U.S. has given only 67.7 billion euros in total aid. (RELATED: Fact-Checking Trump’s Claim He’s He’s Been Indicted More Times Than Al Capone)

“Total EU (meaning bilateral, government to government, as well as EU institutions) committed aid stands at 144.13 billion EUR as of Jan 15th 2024. Total committed US aid stands at 68.72 billion EUR. If you consider geographic Europe, meaning the UK, Iceland, Norway, and Switzerland as non EU countries, the total is 170 billion EUR,” Bomprezzi said.

The spokesperson for the Ukrainian embassy to the U.S. also provided Check Your Fact with figures about European Union assistance to Ukraine. (Emphasis theirs, not from Check Your Fact).

“As of January 2024, EU institutions and member states had made available an estimated $77 billion in assistance for Ukraine since February 2022, including about $30 billion in security assistance. In February 2024, EU leaders approved an additional $54 billion in assistance to Ukraine, to be disbursed over the 2024-2027 time period,” the spokesperson said. “The EU has allocated an additional $18 billion to provide for the needs of Ukrainian refugees in Europe; individual EU members also have provided refugee assistance. Other countries, including the United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, and Norway, also have provided assistance to Ukraine.” 

Eric Gomez, a senior fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute whose research focuses on the U.S. military budget and force posture, explained that while Trump got “the specific numbers wrong,” he is correct in saying that the U.S. has provided more “immediate military aid” to Ukraine than Europe.

“Trump gets the specific numbers wrong, but he makes an important point about the outsize role of U.S. aid to Ukraine relative to European states.”

“According to the CFR, the U.S. has sent almost $75 billion in aid to Ukraine, $46 billion of which is military aid. The U.S. is the largest individual aid provider by a wide margin with Germany being the next largest at $24 billion in total aid. The [EU]’s total aid to Ukraine is almost double that of the United States, but this includes pledges of future, long-term aid that the United States cannot legally make so it is not an apples-to-apples comparison,” Gomez told Check Your Fact via email.

“The type of aid also matters here. The United States is the largest provider of military aid to Ukraine by a wide margin, having sent $46.3 billion with Germany in second place at $19.4 billion. Europeans like to tout the EU’s much higher overall aid figure as evidence of pulling their weight for Ukraine’s defense, but this aid is primarily financial. When it comes to getting weapons into the hands of Ukrainian troops, the United States stands head and shoulders above all other foreign aid suppliers,” Gomez continued.

“So, although Trump is wrong about the amounts of aid sent, he is right to note that when it comes to immediate military aid to Ukraine the United States has shouldered a much greater burden than European states,” he said.

John Hardie, deputy director of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies’ Russia Program, told Check Your Fact the U.S. has given “just over $74 billion” in aid to Ukraine.

“The United States has committed just over $74 billion to Ukraine. By ‘They’re in for $35 billion,’ I assume Trump was referring to Europe? The EU (including EU member states and EU institutions) has committed roughly $156 billion to Ukraine,” Hardie said.

In late January 2024, The Associated Press reported that Congress had not yet approved more money for Ukraine, with the last round of security assistance offered by the Pentagon on Dec. 27, 2023, as a $250 million package that included 155mm artillery shells among other military equipment. As of Feb. 28, the Pentagon is considering whether or not it will use an available $4 billion in “presidential drawdown authority funds available for Ukraine” to offer military aid to the country, according to CNN.

Elias Atienza contributed to this report. 

Christine Sellers

Fact Check Reporter