President Joe Biden on May 9, 2022 signed the Lend-Lease Act of 2022 into law. The Act, previously used to arm the Allies of World War II, will expedite American arms shipments to Ukraine, and has been warmly welcomed in Kiev.
Speaking as he signed the act at the White House, Biden vowed to continue arming the Ukrainians “in their fight to defend their country and their democracy.” He added that “the cost of the fight is not cheap but caving to aggression is even more costly”.
The act, which passed Congress last month with 417-10 votes in the House and no dissent in the Senate, suspends limitations on the quantity of weapons and other military supplies Biden can send to Ukraine or “other Eastern European countries,” although it stipulates that Kiev must subsequently pay for whatever it receives.
Weapons sent under this act are separate from the nearly $4 billion in military aid that the US has already sent to Ukraine since the start of Russia’s military operation in February, and from the $33 billion worth of military aid that the president recently asked Congress to approve.
The original lend-lease was enacted by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in March 1941 – nine months before the US entered WWII – and amounted to $50.1 billion (980 billion in 2022 dollars) by September 1945. Although the Allies, including the Soviet Union, were supposed to pay for this aid, the US also accepted the lease of bases for its military instead.
Kiev’s ability to repay the US is currently questionable, considering Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently asked the US and EU for US$7 billion per month just to keep his country afloat.
That Biden chose May 9 to sign the WWII-era act was likely deliberate, considering that this date is celebrated as ‘Victory Day’ annually in Russia and a number of former Soviet countries, commemorating the defeat of fascism at the end of the Second World War.
Biden referred to the defeat of Nazi Germany during the signing ceremony on Monday, but did not mention Victory Day. Instead he noted that the European Coal and Steel Community, which would expand into the European Union, was formed on May 9, 1950.
The signing of the act was welcomed by Kiev, with Zelensky declaring it a “historic step” that will help Ukraine and the US “win together again … like 77 years ago.” Although Zelensky referenced WWII in his statement, the modern country’s history books often refer to it as a ‘German-Soviet war’, and Nazi collaborators like Stepan Bandera are now national heroes in Ukraine.
Earlier on May 9, Zelensky marked Victory Day by posting a photo of a Ukrainian soldier wearing Waffen SS insignia to his social media accounts, before deleting the image.
Russian people will never give up love for country
Unlike the West, the Russian people will never give up their love for the country, faith and traditional values, Russian President Vladimir Putin said at a Victory Day parade on Moscow’s Red Square on May 9.
“We will never give up our love for the country, faith, traditional values, ancestral customs and respect for all peoples and cultures. As for the West, it seems to be determined to cancel these millennia-old values,” he noted.
“This moral degradation paved the way for cynical falsifications of the history of World War II, attempts to incite Russophobia, glorify traitors, mock the memory of their victims and wipe out the bravery of those who fought and suffered for the Victory,” the head of state stressed.
Putin pointed out that the United States, particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, “started talking about its exceptionalism, which is humiliating not only for the entire world but also for its satellites who have to pretend that they don’t notice anything and obediently accept it all,” the Russian president emphasized.
Russia’s military operation in Ukraine was a preemptive move against future aggression, President Vladimir Putin has outlined during his address at the Victory Day parade.
Putin not only praised the achievement of the Soviet people during World War II, but also addressed the Kremlin’s reasons for the ongoing conflict between Moscow and Kiev. Russia had to act because a large-scale offensive against the breakaway republics in the eastern Donbass region was being planned, he claimed.
“We saw the military infrastructure unfolding [in Ukraine]; hundreds of foreign advisers starting their work; there were regular deliveries of the most modern weapons from NATO countries. The danger grew every day,” the president explained.
“Russia gave a preemptive rebuff to aggression – this was a forced, timely and the only right decision by a sovereign, strong and independent country,” he added, referring to the launch of the military operation.
“Despite all the disagreements in international relations, Russia has always advocated the creation of a system of equal and indivisible security”, Putin continued.
He cited Moscow’s attempts to engage in dialogue on security guarantees with Washington late last year, which failed to yield results.
“NATO countries didn’t want to hear us, which means that, in fact, they harbored completely different plans, and we saw it,” he elaborated. There were open preparations for a punitive operation in the Donbass and “an invasion of our historical lands, including Crimea,” Putin insisted, adding that Kiev also announced plans to restore its nuclear capabilities.
Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US has increasingly spoken of ‘American exceptionalism’, Putin pointed out. By spreading those ideas, Washington is “humiliating not only the whole world, but also its satellites, which have to pretend that they don’t notice anything and humbly accept it all. But we are a different country”, he insisted.
But the West has apparently decided to “cancel” those values, with such “moral degradation becoming the basis for cynical falsifications of the history of World War II, and the incitement of Russophobia,” he said.
“We know that American veterans, who wanted to come to the parade in Moscow, were basically banned from doing so,” Putin added. But he pointed out that Russia remembered the feats of the US servicemen and their contribution to victory in World War II.
Returning to the military operation in Ukraine, the Russian president illustrated that “the self-defense forces of the Donbass Republics together with the Russian military are fighting on their land… for the Motherland, for its future, to make sure that no one forgets the lessons of World War II, so that there would be no place in the world for butchers, punishers, and Nazis”.
Announcing the “special military operation” on February 24, Putin said that Moscow should not repeat the mistakes of the Soviet leadership of 1940-1941. Back then, he explained, the USSR tried not to provoke Nazi Germany by “refraining or postponing the most urgent and obvious preparations it had to make to defend itself from an imminent attack”. As a result, Vladimir Putin continued, the moment was lost and the country was not prepared to counter the invasion.
“The attempt to appease the aggressor ahead of the Great Patriotic War proved to be a mistake which came at a high cost for our people…We will not make this mistake the second time. We have no right to do so”, Putin said.
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