Five Facts on Lend-Lease

Five Facts on Lend-Lease

As Congress attempts to pass vital military aid to Ukraine, reports are emerging that the final legislation may include a revitalization of the Lend-Lease program – a callback to the legislation that enable America to support its allies before entering World War II.

Here are Five Facts on Lend-Lease.

  1. The original Lend-Lease Act was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on March 11, 1941.

The legislation marked a pivotal shift in U.S. foreign policy by allowing the provision of military aid to allies during World War II without immediate compensation. This policy was essential for supporting Allied forces against Axis powers and was fundamental in the United States' efforts to aid without directly entering the war until December of that year.

2. Throughout World War II, the United States supplied more than 30 of its allies with over $50 billion (equivalent to roughly one trillion dollars today) in military aid under Lend-Lease.

This aid included aircraft, tanks, vehicles, weapons, and food supplies, significantly bolstering the military capabilities of Allied nations, including the Soviet Union and China.

3. Stalin considered Lend-Lease to be essential to the Soviet Union ultimately prevailing over Nazi Germany on the Eastern Front.

According to the memoirs of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, Stalin’s successor, “[Stalin] stated bluntly that if the United States had not helped us, we would not have won the war. If we had had to fight Nazi Germany one on one, we could not have stood up against Germany's pressure, and we would have lost the war… When I listened to his remarks, I was fully in agreement with him, and today I am even more so.”

4. The U.S. revived the Lend-Lease program in 2022 to help Ukraine in its war with Russia.

The Ukraine Democracy Defense Lend-Lease Act of 2022 cut red tape on defense exports to Ukraine to ensure they could receive timely aid to fight back against the Russian invasion. The legislation unanimously passed the Senate and passed the House 417-10 in May of 2022.

5. Lend-Lease has not been the primary mechanism of delivering aid to Ukraine.

The Atlantic Council notes that “the United States transferred $46.6 billion worth of munitions, weapons, and other military aid to Ukraine in fiscal years 2022-2023” without using the Lend-Lease mechanism, which ultimately expired in October of 2023. However, the authors noted that the act’s connections to World War II make reauthorizing it a potent symbol of American political support for Ukraine.