This is shameless!
The Ukrainian Embassy hosted a reception last week in honor of the 31st anniversary of the country’s armed services. Events like this are part of the social calendar of Washington’s smart set, with hobnobbing diplomats, think tankers, journalists, and US officials. Guests took photos with the Ukrainian ambassador. Even Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley showed up.
But there was something so overt it led some observers to laugh out loud at the gathering’s invitation.
The logos of military contractors wNorthrop Grumman, Raytheon, Pratt & Whitney, and Lockheed Martinere emblazoned on the invitation as the event’s sponsors, below the official Ukrainian emblems and elegant blue script that said the Ukrainian ambassador and defense attaché “request the pleasure of your company.”
“It’s really bizarre to me that they would put that on an invitation,” one think tank expert told me. “The fact that they don’t feel sheepish about it, that’s interesting,” explained an academic. (Both spoke on the condition of anonymity and regularly attend embassy events in Washington.)
That Ukraine and those US military contractors have a strong relationship isn’t surprising. America’s allies and partners around the world bought some $50 billion in US weapons last year. These four companies produce some of the most high-profile missile defense systems and anti-tank missiles that President Joe Biden has sent to Ukraine since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded in February. Neither is it surprising that Ukraine’s government, which says its country has already suffered hundreds of billions of dollars in damage, might not want to deplete its coffers.
But the explicit sponsorship indicates how intimate major military contractors have become with Ukraine, and how much they stand to gain from the war.
The invitation is a clear expression of how the war in Ukraine has been good for business. As Ukraine fights a defensive war against Russia’s brutal invasion, Ukrainians in Washington have been pushing for the US to send Ukraine more weapons. So far, President Joe Biden’s administration has committed a substantial $19.3 billion of military assistance since February.
No one wanted to talk about the party invite, however. A senior official from the Ukrainian Embassy in Washington confirmed that the companies’ logos appeared on the invitation but declined to speak on the record. They directed me to the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense, which did not immediately respond. Lockheed declined to officially comment and deferred to Ukraine House, an embassy-linked entity that was also listed on the invitation. Raytheon also declined to comment. Emails to Northrop Grumman and Pratt & Whitney were not returned.
Even some US supporters of Ukraine say the overt sponsorship is a bad look. “Sustaining American popular support is absolutely essential for Ukraine’s continued defense,” Matt Duss, a Carnegie Endowment for International Peace fellow who previously advised Sen. Bernie Sanders, told me. “So Ukrainian diplomats should probably think harder about how it looks for them to be throwing parties with the defense contractors who are making bank off of this horrible war.”
It’s a big club and you ain’t in it… [Vox]