It is worth understanding what lend-lease means

This is an emergency program that the United States is open to allies only. © Photo from the website of the Kyiv administration

The Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 came into force in the United States. The prevailing comments in Russia are imbued with considerable concern for the Ukrainians.

Pretty respectable by domestic standards IA Regnum publishes under the heading “Welcome to slavery” a selection of thoughts from readers of his Telegram channel with their own inserts. Here to reduce and edit – only to spoil: “Well, that’s it! Ukraine is now officially sold for debts, – Marina ironically … Sign, sign … A death sentence for your country and people, – Raisa wrote to the US President … Yeah. Only America helps itself, not Ukraine. Naive fools, – Alexandra added … ”

In the same vein, but more clearly, spoke out State Duma head Vyacheslav Volodin: “Washington’s motives are clear. Lend-lease will increase the profits of American military corporations by several times … Think about it: the USSR received weapons from the United States under Lend-Lease. They talked about this as help from the allies … They repaid debts, limited themselves for many years, supplying platinum, gold, timber to the United States on mutual settlements … But only 61 years after the Great Victory, in 2006, these payments were completed! .. Many will pay future generations of citizens of Ukraine. Zelensky is driving the country into debt.”

I will leave aside the extremely popular among us concern about the excessive profit of the American monopolies. Let the Americans deal with it themselves. But speculation about a heavy burden of debt remains.

Volodin’s story about how the Soviet people allegedly overstrained themselves by supplying gold and timber to the greedy Americans is fiction. In 1941-1945, the United States sent weapons, equipment and food worth $11.3 billion to the USSR under Lend-Lease (in today’s dollars – $200-250 billion). In the late 1940s, the States asked for the return of two billion at first, then they knocked it down to one, but Stalin still refused. The disputes went on for a long time, and in the early 1970s they agreed on $700 million, but even those Brezhnev changed his mind about paying. In the end, these 0.7 billion were paid by the Russian Federation by 2006 – in very much lighter dollars and as a symbolic act.

The reason for these auctions themselves is not in American greed, but in the Lend-Lease formula, which, in turn, is a product of the special atmosphere that prevailed in the United States on the eve of their entry into World War II. Lend-Lease was invented not for the Soviet Union, but for Great Britain at the end of 1940. And legalized for her in March 1941.

Since American public opinion valued the still remaining neutrality of their country, it was necessary to present free massive supplies to Britain at war with Hitler as something harmless. For this, lend-lease appeared, which roughly means “let it be used”.

“I want to explain to you with a clear example,” said President Roosevelt. If your neighbor’s house is on fire and you have a garden hose, lend it to your neighbor before your house catches fire too. When the fire is out, your neighbor will return the hose to you.” Thus, irrevocable deliveries to British friends were portrayed as a neighbor’s favor.

According to the Lend-Lease formula, the recipient did not have to pay for what he immediately used up – shells, gasoline or food. But he had to return the surviving weapons after the war, and pay for non-depreciated industrial equipment that he wanted to keep for himself.

At the end of 1941, the USSR was included in the Lend-Lease program – and on the same, of course, conditions.

In fact, the post-war payments of all countries participating in the program were symbolic. Therefore, “many future generations of citizens of Ukraine” may not worry about the “debt hole”.

Another idea popular with us, dating back to the times of the first Cold War – that there was little use for Lend-Lease – is also a fiction.

It is true that the main beneficiaries in this program were the British. Of the total $50 billion (in today’s dollars – about $1 trillion), they got $30 billion and a tail (now it’s about $600 billion). But the Soviet share (almost a quarter of all expenditures of the program) was quite large. The official statement once published in our country that the price of Lend-Lease was equal to only 4% of Soviet military production is not supported by any calculations and is certainly taken from the ceiling.

A simple comparison gives an idea of ​​the real scale of American deliveries. In 1940, all Soviet merchandise imports were worth $272 million. Over the next four years, American deliveries alone were 40 times greater. Not to mention weapons and goods imported at the same time by Great Britain and Canada, which in total exceeded Soviet imports of 1940 by 10 times.

The special optics through which it is now customary in Russia to look at everything around is also confusing in relation to the just announced Lend-Lease for Ukraine. Hence the whole stream of ridiculous reviews.

Although it should be understood that lend-lease is an emergency program that the United States opens only for a country that is currently considered the most important friend and ally. And the scale of support not only can, but must be very large. Lend-lease, by definition, is a very serious thing.

Vitaly Grankin

Source: Росбалт by

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