Former Ukrainian PM says Kiev siphoning billions in arms deals
A former Ukrainian Prime Minister says his country had siphoned billions from its budget in arms deals.
The Ukrainian authorities have embezzled over 100 billion hryvnias ($2.7 billion) from the state budget through the procurement of overpriced and subpar ammunition, equipment, and air defense weapons, former Ukrainian Prime Minister Mykola Azarov said Thursday.
"According to the most conservative estimates, more than 100 billion budget hryvnias were misappropriated," Azarob said on his official Telegram channel.
"Members of the ruling 'Servant of the People' party primarily used these funds for the purchase of ammunition, often acquiring outdated and low-quality items at exorbitant prices," the former Ukrainian premier underlined.
The State Department Inspector General issued a report earlier, warning that the economic aid provided by the United States to Ukraine is at risk due to corruption within the Ukrainian government and private sector in Kiev.
"Over the longer run, particularly as the Department plans to assist Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction, corruption in the Ukrainian government and private sector poses risks to the effectiveness of US foreign assistance that requires robust oversight," the State Department Inspector General said in the report.
Mountains and mountains of corruption
Congress has since February 24, 2022, allocated $45.4 billion to the State Department and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to support various initiatives in Ukraine.
According to Azarov, there is a similar pattern of corruption that is evident in air defense procurement. He cited a specific incident in which authorities purportedly signed a contract for four air defense missiles, although only three were actually procured.
He further alleged that after Russia's missile attacks, all four missiles were written off, benefiting someone who allegedly used the funds to purchase a new apartment in Paris.
An ex-Ukrainian recruitment officer, accused of accepting bribes from men looking to avoid military service, has bought himself a £3.4 million villa and cars in Spain, an investigation by a Ukranian NGO has found.
Yevhen Borysov was arrested in July in Ukraine and charged with bribery after being accused of receiving around 200 bribes and traveling out of the country during martial law.
Ukraine’s State Bureau of Investigations says the ex-recruitment officer received a total of £4 million in bribes from Odessa's draft dodgers. He denies the charges and says that he does not know properties and vehicles purchased by close family members, as he faces a 10-year prison sentence if convicted.
Ukrainians are increasingly looking to escape enlistment in the national army, as total deaths among Kiev's forces reached 70,000 according to US estimates, while 20,000 men have been caught by Ukraine's border guard trying to leave the country.
Flawed conscription system
The phenomenon has opened the door for Ukrainian military officials to capitalize and seek financial gain by excusing bribers from military service.
These revelations have added to the ongoing turmoil surrounding military procurement within the Ukrainian government, resulting in the recent dismissal of Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov.
Despite the mounting concerns, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky defended his administration's track record on anti-corruption efforts during an interview with CNN, emphasizing that the generous financial and military aid provided by Western nations to Kiev remained unaffected by the allegations.
Moreover, earlier in August, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired officials in charge of military conscription in each area of the nation, alleging corruption charges that might amount to treason.
In a social media post, upon a meeting with military leaders, the Ukrainian President explained the dismissals.
He hinted that some officials were involved in cynicism and bribery, stating that the "system should be run" by people who know these actions amount to high treason during a time of war.