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US has spent billions on Ukraine war aid. But is that money landing in corrupt pockets?

Tom Vanden BrookRachel Looker, USA TODAY, 17 Feb 23

WASHINGTON – With more than $100 billion in U.S. weaponry and financial aid flowing to Ukraine in less than a year – and more on the way to counter Russia’s invasion – concerns about arms falling into terrorists’ hands and dollars into corrupt officials’ pockets are mounting.

The special inspector general who has overseen aid to Afghanistan since 2012, and some House Republicans, warn of the need for closer oversight of the military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine. The scale of the effort is massive. The $113 billion appropriated by Congress in 2022 approaches the $146 billion spent in 20 years for military and humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan, though the cost of sending U.S. troops there was far higher.

“When you spend so much money so quickly, with so little oversight, you’re going to have fraud, waste and abuse,” John Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, said in an interview. “Massive amounts.”

Among the American public and on Capitol Hill, support for Ukraine’s resistance to Russia’s invasion remains strong. But it is softening. An Associated Press poll in late January showed that 48% of U.S. adults say they favor the U.S. providing weapons to Ukraine, with 29% opposed and 22% saying they’re neither in favor nor opposed. That’s a drop from May 2022, when 60% of U.S. adults said they were in favor of sending Ukraine weapons.

Support could erode further among Americans and Ukrainians, according to members of Congress and Sopko, without greater transparency and accountability for the tens of billions spent. The costs to American taxpayers can be expected to increase as the Biden administration sends increasingly sophisticated and expensive arms to Ukraine, including Abrams battle tanks.

Assuring that the aid ends up in the right hands, they say, demands greater oversight.

U.S. struggles to account for billions sent to Ukraine

The Pentagon spent $62.3 billion in 2022 on Ukraine for weapons, ammunition, training, logistics, supplies, salaries and stipends, according to the Joint Strategic Oversight Plan for Ukraine Response report. Inspectors general for several agencies released the report in January.

The State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development spent $46 billion for activities ranging from border security to basic government services such as utilities, hospitals, schools and firefighting. Other government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture, spent another $5 billion.

The report noted the difficulty U.S. agencies had accounting for the billions spent.

The Pentagon, for example, was “unable to provide end-use monitoring in accordance with DoD policy” in Ukraine, according to a report by the Pentagon’s inspector general. “End-use monitoring” includes tracking serial numbers of weapons and ammunition to ensure they’re used as intended.

……………………. With few U.S. troops or State Department personnel in Ukraine, keeping inventories is difficult, the report said. Moreover, the vast amount of money complicates the effort. The report notes the danger of corrupt officials siphoning it off.

“State is overseeing unprecedented levels of security assistance in Ukraine, presenting significant risk of misuse and diversion given the volume and speed of assistance and the wartime operating environment,” according to the report…………………….

Lack of Ukraine oversight draws parallels to Afghanistan corruption

Ukraine has a history of corruption, and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has made stamping it out a priority.

Ukraine ranks 116th out of 180 nations on Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index. On Feb. 14, the defense minister named new deputies after news reports showed officials in the defense ministry had bought food for troops at inflated prices. 

Corruption corrodes the public’s faith in government, said Sopko, the special inspector general for Afghanistan. Elites in Afghanistan skimmed U.S. aid money, and the obvious corruption alienated Afghans…………………….

‘Need truth tellers’: Republicans demand more oversight

Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, and Rep. Dan Bishop, R-N.C., drafted a letter to the White House requesting an expansion to a congressionally requiredreport on the amount of security assistance sent to Ukraine. The lawmakers called for more details on how much money has been sent to Ukraine and how it’s used………….


March 4, 2023 - Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, Ukraine

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