US says Ukraine corruption poses risks to aid
The United States says Ukraine being such a corrupt nation poses challenges to the aid it would provide to it, calling for more oversight.
The State Department Inspector General issued a report on Thursday, 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.
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.
This includes backing Ukraine's military operations, providing humanitarian relief, and ensuring the smooth functioning of the Kiev government, as highlighted in the report titled "Report: Review of Ukraine Foreign Assistance Coordination and Oversight."
However, the report also pointed out that the Embassy in Kiev had not updated its Integrated Country Strategy (ICS) due to staffing limitations resulting from the embassy's closure and subsequent operations under wartime conditions.
The absence of an updated ICS has resulted in State Department bureaus and other agencies lacking clear guidance for designing programs and establishing performance indicators aligned with common strategic objectives. This poses additional challenges in effectively coordinating and overseeing foreign assistance efforts in Ukraine.
Famed US investigative journalist and Pulitzer award winner Seymour Hersh said in April that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had embezzled hundreds of millions of dollars from the United States that Washington had allocated to purchase fuel.
Hersh accused the Ukrainian government of using US taxpayer money to purchase Russian diesel from Moscow to bolster its military, adding that Ukrainian officials were "competing" to set up front companies that aimed to get contracts from international private arms dealers.
"One estimate by analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) put the embezzled funds at $400 million last year, at least; another expert compared the level of corruption in Kiev as approaching that of the Afghan war, 'although there will be no professional audit reports emerging from Ukraine'," Hersh's report read.
Hersh argued that he had knowledge that numerous Ukrainian government agencies were competing to establish front businesses to export guns and ammunition to arms dealers, noting that the importers included ones in Poland, the Czech Republic, and the Israeli occupation.
Instead of purchasing fuel through Pakistan, Ukraine, at the direction of its president, has been buying fuel from Russia, whom Kiev accuses of invading Ukrainian soil, Hersh revealed, noting that the Ukrainians were embezzling behemoth amounts of money allocated by the United States to diesel purchases.
The discrepancy comes when one compares the price of Russian diesel to that of other international parties such as the United States, as Russian energy is cheaper; therefore, the Ukrainians are pocketing the difference, earning them hundreds of millions of dollars, the US journalist claimed.
This comes after earlier reports came out about how oil products originating in Russia made their way to Ukraine through Bulgaria and Latvia.
He also stressed that in the wake of numerous corruption scandals surrounding the Kiev government coming to light, Zelensky on January 24 "announced ‘personnel decisions’ across different government ministries and within Ukrainian law enforcement."
The report recalled how Zelensky announced that state officials would be banned from traveling internationally for purposes unrelated to official work in the wake of a report revealing that a former top prosecutor vacationed in Spain despite there being a martial law in action banning Ukrainian men between the ages of 18 and 60 from leaving Ukraine without permission from the government.