The Russian invasion of Ukraine has become the world’s largest war of conquest since World War Two. Both Ukraine and Russia have amassed hundreds of thousands of troops with devastating battles mirroring the grueling ‘fight for inches’ tactics of the two World Wars.
Nevertheless, as both nations have looked to foreign powers to maintain their logistics, financial accountability has now become a priority. Stocks are on the rise relating to weapons used in the war, and defense purchases and allocations have skyrocketed due to the largest conventional war since Iran-Iraq in the 1980s.
The Positives of the Growing Defense Industries
After two decades of unnecessary ventures in unconventional conflicts in Afghanistan, the Middle East, and North Africa, the Russian-Ukrainian War helped revive a stagnant American defense industry. The US defense industry has seen a growth of production from 155mm shells to added exports, such as hundreds of Abrams tanks and HIMARS to Eastern Europe and F16s across various allies.
Negatives such as Stocks and Financial Gain
Stocks have risen related to defense companies that have profited during the war in Ukraine, and it is important to break down possible conflicts of interest relating to public figures. BAE Systems, a British-owned defense company and Europe’s largest contractor has seen spectacular growth in the stock market since the invasion of Ukraine.
On June 2nd, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed the British tech giant would add a weapons production company in his country. The British were one of the major supporters of Ukraine before the full-fledged Russian invasion in 2022 and arguably kept the latter afloat by integrating Kyiv into the Western military doctrine.
The Swedish defense company, SAAB, has also seen a surge in stocks, as the Nordic tech giant has become a viable commerce for supplementing requisitions in Ukraine. Amongst the prized weaponry from SAAB going to Ukraine, the Ground-Launched Small Diameter Bomb (GLSDB) stands out the most.
GLSBD launches a 250-pound bomb where it separates in the air and is guided by satellites to maximize targeting effects. The GLSBD has a max range of upwards of 150 km.
Ukraine Fighting Russia and Corruption
Ukraine, since achieving independence from the Soviet Union, has struggled in its ongoing fight against corruption. Recently, Volodymyr Zelensky, the President of Ukraine, fired all heads of the military recruitment offices across all regions.
Zelensky intends to replace the old recruiters with seasoned and wounded combat veterans of the war, as they have more experience and know the ins and outs of corruption of materials or funding that didn’t reach the frontlines as intended. Former military recruiters also took bribes from men who wanted to defer their conscription, which could affect critical force reconstitution in the future if the Russian invasion continues to be prolonged.
Ongoing questions related to corruption in Ukraine have led the general public to continuously request accountability for US military aid to the war-battered country. American military officers have been attached to Ukraine to keep accountability for weapons inspections. Led by Brigadier General Garrick Harmon, the inspectors also make sure no American weapons have ended up on the black market.
A recent poll conducted by the SSRS research center has stated the majority of Americans are now leaning toward less aid for Ukraine as the war continues to go on. The general public instead would rather provide intelligence gathering (at 63%) and continuous training (53%) over military aid (at 43%).
While It’s Important to Support Allies, It’s also Important to be Wary of the Military Industrial Complex
The US defense industry is one of the economic lifelines of America that has given a plethora of jobs to citizens and a defensive shield for allies around the globe. Nevertheless, the industry can also have its cons that sometimes outweigh the pros.
The growing connection between stocks for profit with American defense companies has led to criticisms of influential figures who have stakes in those organizations, many of which include politicians. Ever since the Vietnam War, defense companies have netted in perpetual conflicts while the average American has become wary of wars.
Several decades of geopolitical quagmires across countries such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, and others have enriched the military-industrial complex while the national debt and deficit continue to climb. Though the defense industry has helped bring out the competition and supplemented stagnant economies of the past, as seen during World War Two, arms companies should not have to come at the expense of the American taxpayer.
Military aid to Ukraine will continue to be a focus of accountability with the average American citizen going forward as election season approaches and fear of corruption ensues. As former President Eisenhower emphasized, it is important to remain vigilant on the influence of the military-industrial complex.