It was just a matter of time before doubts would be raised about how aid to Ukraine is being used. The White House fought Congress on establishing a special inspector general to ensure US tax dollars were spent appropriately and as designated. There was always a concern that, with the vast amounts of military, financial, and humanitarian aid going to Kyiv, some funds or military equipment could have been siphoned off through pilferage or fraud.
Poor Tracking of Ukraine Support
The Department of Defense inspector general and acting inspectors general for the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) had assured the House Foreign Affairs Committee (HFAC) last year that all the warfighting equipment and financial aid was going to where it was intended in Ukraine. “Each of those testifying confirmed that no diversion of resources or military equipment could be substantiated,” Liberty Nation reported. However, a report by the Department of Defense Inspector General (DODIG), released to the public on Jan. 10, 2024, casts significant doubt on whether assurances given by the agency witnesses testifying before the HFAC last March were truthful.
The full title of the DODIG’s report is “Evaluation of the DoD’s Enhanced End-Use Monitoring Defense Articles Provided to Ukraine.” It found:
“Although ODC-Ukraine [Office of Defense Cooperation-Ukraine] and Ukrainian Armed Forces personnel conducted some required inventories, as of June 2, 2023, serial number inventories for more than $1.005 billion of the total $1.699 billion (59 percent of the total value) of EEUM [enhanced end-use monitoring]-designated defense articles remained delinquent. Additionally, the DoD did not maintain an accurate inventory of Ukrainian EEUM-designated defense articles.”
In layman’s terms, this means that six out of every ten dollars of aid provided by the US taxpayer to support the Kyiv government’s fight against Russian invaders was not properly tracked. The term “delinquent” is bureaucratese for saying those entrusted with tracking each item of military equipment didn’t follow established procedures to ensure inventory accuracy.
So there is no assurance that the US military equipment went to the Ukraine warfighters on the frontlines. “Most of the improperly tracked equipment is night vision devices, but the list also includes drones as well as missiles,” Defense News explained. What if they were pilfered for other purposes or sold on the black market? Well, the bottom line of the report indicated no one knows.
No Special Inspector General?
President Joe Biden’s antagonism toward establishing a special inspector general to oversee the correct distribution of military equipment in Ukraine seems a serious error. Furthermore, it raises a logical question. Did the DODIG find where any stolen military weapons might have gone and who took them? To answer this question, the DODIG issued a get-out-of-jail-free card: “It was beyond the scope of our evaluation to determine whether there has been diversion of such assistance.”
Such oversight responsibilities will most likely be part of the FY2024 National Defense Authorization Act passed recently with its mandated establishment of a Special Inspector General for Operation Atlantic Resolve (the designation for support provided to Ukraine). The DODIG will be the lead, and someone will be assigned to ensure adequate oversight and to apply strong financial and inventory program controls.
According to firsthand reports from inside Ukraine, no US inspector is resident in the country, a glaring shortfall. The State Department, USAID, and Defense Department staff visit Kyiv periodically to execute oversight and management duties. Long-distance initial inspection of inventories cannot be considered appropriate execution of the Defense Department’s duties. Enhanced end-use monitoring requires inventories of “defense articles [be made] within 90 days of arrival.” Meeting that standard is a challenge for itinerant oversight officials, as the DODIG report attested.
American taxpayers should be confident that their money is being spent as intended. With a special inspector general in place, Congress and American citizens can be more confident that Ukraine assistance, now approaching more than $113 billion, is appropriately utilized. It’s the least taxpayers should expect.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.