Ukraine has found fraud in funding support provided by the United States. Shocking. Ammunition-starved Ukrainian troops struggle with Russian invaders on the front line, deprived of mortar and other artillery shells. At the same time, crooked Ukrainian officials are evidently stealing the desperately needed material. The Biden administration tried to establish solid funding controls, but Congress finally took the issue into its own hands, appointing a Special Inspector General for Ukraine Operation Atlantic Resolve.
Lax Controls and Crooked Bureaucrats in Ukraine
Liberty Nation explained in its report “Biden Wants Less Oversight on Ukraine Spending” that lax financial controls over military assistance to a foreign nation leads to a playground for unscrupulous actors. “This reluctance of the White House to have transparency on its Ukraine ‘as long as it takes’ assistance strategy raises the question of what is there to hide,” LN reported. Well, now we know.
On January 28, Reuters revealed:
“Ukraine’s SBU security service said on Saturday [January 27] it had uncovered a corruption scheme in the purchase of arms by the country’s military totaling the equivalent of about $40 million. The announcement of mass procurement fraud, confirmed by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry, will have a huge resonance in a country beleaguered by Russia’s nearly two-year-old invasion.”
The Kyiv government has felt pressure from the European Union and others to identify and eliminate corruption in the administration of massive amounts of foreign weapons and ammunition. Fighting against the Kremlin’s unprovoked attack has left the country’s forces in a defensive stance in much of the eastern region. Trading artillery barrages eats through stockpiles rapidly. Back at the Pentagon, the narrative remained consistent. Congress has to appropriate more money for increased military assistance to Ukraine. Defense Department public affairs spokesman US Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder lamented in a press briefing that the lack of funding “prevents us from meeting Ukraine’s most urgent battlefield needs to include things like artillery rounds, anti-tank weapons, air, [and] air defense interceptors.” But without proper accountability for what the United States sends, these resources are in jeopardy of theft by Ukrainian bureaucrats.
“Ukraine’s security service said members of the defense ministry conspired with members of a Ukrainian arms firm to embezzle the funds, which were meant to purchase 100,000 mortar shells,” according to Anders Hagstrom, writing for Fox News. Reports tell of Ukraine soldiers firing up to 7,000 artillery rounds per day; a portion of those were mortar. But 100,000 mortar shells are a substantial quantity. Just one incident of embezzlement prevented soldiers from using mortar tubes in the fight for a few more months. That’s a long time when facing daily contact with the Russian enemy.
Congress Authorized a Special Inspector General
Even though Congress authorized the current Department of Defense Inspector General to take over the responsibilities of the Special Inspector General for Ukraine Operation Atlantic Resolve, there is no information that he is in place in Kyiv and doing the job. In its report “Biden Team Failed to Track $1 Billion in Ukraine Aid,” Liberty Nation described the situation: “According to firsthand reports from inside Ukraine, no US inspector is resident in the country, a glaring shortfall.”
Americans should not expect intense oversight any time soon. The $40 million “mass fraud” and embezzlement the Ukraine government uncovered is a drop in the bucket compared to the billions that are exposed to corruption. The Biden administration desperately needs to be a better steward of taxpayer dollars.
The views expressed are those of the author and not of any other affiliation.