US officials warn of fraud, waste in Ukraine funds
Officials in Washington see that if the US continues to send arms to Ukraine without any oversight, this would lead to issues in Ukraine and the world.
The US is spending roughly $130 million to arm Ukraine daily, in addition to funds spent on economic and other assistance, prompting current and former US officials to warn that Washington needs to take more action to ensure that the equipment and funds sent to Kiev actually make it to the country, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday.
Congress allocated some $54 billion to the Ukraine war since regional tensions started in January, and this figure exceeds any other assistance sent out to any other conflict-stricken country, including during its military occupation of Afghanistan, officials have said.
The latest assistance package to Ukraine includes sums allocated for inspectors in the State Department and the US Agency for International Development to conduct additional oversight activities.
The US takes into consideration the "risk of illicit diversion" among other political, military, and human-rights considerations when evaluating potential arms transfers, a spokesperson for the National Security Council claimed.
According to the spokesperson, if Washington were to find that the transferred equipment or funds would be used in ways consistent with agreements for the sale or transfer, the US would not approve the transfers. "The Ukrainians have assured us that they share our concerns about the accountability of these systems."
As soon as the equipment is in the hands of the Kiev government, US officials have said, Washington does not know anything about the fate of the material, and it relies on the information provided by the Ukrainian government on the matter.
The Biden administration had previously discussed sending US troops to Ukraine to conduct oversight, but they ended up not allowing it, and with the tremendous amount of aid and the lack of oversight from the United States and NATO, American veterans are voicing concern about problems emerging on the issue.
"[T]here’s going to be theft. There's going to be misconduct. There's going to be nepotism. There's going to be stupid decisions being made. It's human nature," said Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, who had spent a decade identifying wasted and stolen US funds there. "A couple of years from now, you’re going to be reading stories about waste, fraud, and abuse."
Sopko's office was formed nine years into the US occupation of Afghanistan, and his office documented major corruption and waste of US funds.
Russian Ambassador to the United Nations Vassily Nebenzia had warned in early June that the weapon systems the West was delivering to Ukraine were ending up on the black market "thanks to well-known, incredible corruption of Ukrainian officials," making it possible for international terrorist organizations to purchase such equipment.
"A very simple internet search will show you that American Stingers are being sold for $7,000 a piece, and Javelins for $30,000 each," Nebenzia told the UNSC. "Of course, these sales won’t be missed out by international terrorists, including those that act in Europe and America."
Earlier that week, the United States decided to provide High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS) to Ukraine due to the nature of the conflict changing to an "artillery duel".
The HIMARSs were the centerpiece of a $700 million package unveiled last week, which includes "Javelin anti-tank missiles, Stinger antiaircraft missiles, powerful artillery and precision rocket systems, radars, unmanned aerial vehicles, Mi-17 helicopters, and ammunition," President Biden said.
In addition to the US package, which raised the total of supplies from Washington to Kiev to more than $5 billion since Biden took office last year, the United Kingdom said it was giving the Eastern European country US-made long-range M270 multiple launch rocket systems.
Russia has repeatedly warned the West, even via a formal diplomatic note, against continuing to send arms to Ukraine over the war in the country, with Moscow stressing that it would only exacerbate the situation.
The visibility of such weapons is almost nonexistent, in US media, which cites sources briefed on US intelligence. One key aspect of the issue, however, is that Washington relies on Kiev for information about what is happening in the country due to the lack of US presence on the ground, he noted.