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As Ukraine fights to expel Russia from its territory, the massive amount of aid the country has received has sparked a very different type of war, a war against corruption.
Speaking to DefenseOne, a senior official at the DoD’s Office of the Inspector General emphasized the risk associated with sending such a massive scale of aid to a country and not knowing if it might be diverted from its intended destination. He said the DoD was also looking at possible U.S.-based contract fraud related to the war.
It seems the overriding concern is that news about corruption in Ukraine could lead to a loss of support for the war effort against Russia as voters begin to swap narratives and question if Ukraine is “undeserving” of aid.
There has been significant reporting on Ukraine’s fight against corruption. Zelensky has been cracking down with multiple raids, stating that "Any domestic supply, any procurement, everything must be absolutely as clean and honest.” But both the U.S. and Ukrainian leadership must stay vigilant.
DefenseOne cited a criminal investigator for the Pentagon IG as expressing concern about “the potential diversion or legal export, or theft” of supplies sent to Ukraine.
“The department procures especially sensitive goods that directly support warfighting efforts…DOD procures the most advanced systems in the world, there are many entities, to include foreign nations as well as criminal groups, that want to get their hands on weapons technology, etc,” he was quoted as saying.
In January, CIA Director William Burns met with Zelensky in Kyiv. Shortly after his visit, multiple Ukrainian officials were fired amid a corruption scandal. Since then, Ukraine has employed a number of online tools and tracking systems to reassure observers. Pentagon Inspector General Robert Storch described Ukraine oversight as “job one” for his office, but made clear that there were significant challenges due to limited boots on the ground.
Ukraine has a very strong incentive to continue to root out corruption, as further scandals could put its financial support at risk.
By Charles Kennedy for Oilprice.com
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Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com