(UnitedVoice.com) – President Joe Biden is fighting to send more aid to Ukraine, as the country continues its war against the Russian invaders. Many are questioning whether that money will be well spent, though. There have been persistent allegations of corruption in the Ukrainian government. Now, someone claiming to be a senior official in that government is backing them up.
On November 1, Time Magazine published an article on Ukraine that included comments from an anonymous source, who claimed to be a senior adviser to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, alleging that corruption in Ukraine is running wild and Zelenskyy’s efforts to stop it are too late. The source says Ukraine is running out of manpower, partly because people are bribing officials to get medical exemptions to the draft.
In August, Zelenskyy fired every regional head of draft offices in an attempt to solve the problem; on September 3, he fired Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov, who had been implicated in a corruption scandal after his deputy was dismissed for paying inflated prices for military rations. Insiders say he wasn’t personally corrupt, but failed to crack down on those who were; that was enough to cost him his job.
Zelenskyy certainly seems to be taking the corruption problem seriously, but can he actually fix it? Time’s source doesn’t think so. One official said nobody will want to take on the draft official job because “It’s like putting a sign on your back that says: corrupt.” Another, the anonymous senior adviser, said it doesn’t matter anyway because “people are stealing like there’s no tomorrow.”
A Legacy Of Soviet Corruption
Until 1991, Ukraine was a republic of the Soviet Union, which was notorious for the corruption that infested its politics and economy at every level. After gaining independence, many Soviet officials slipped easily into the newly free country’s government — and, with Western investment pouring in, they found more opportunities for theft than ever before. Junior officials, who are often underpaid, learn the habit of corruption from their bosses and see it as a reward for moving up the ranks. Once corruption has taken root in a country, it can be challenging to get rid of.
For Ukraine, though, this is an urgent problem. The West has supplied the country’s defenders with huge amounts of weaponry and cash since Russia invaded last February, but taxpayers are becoming weary. Will they be willing to keep supporting Ukraine when the country’s own officials admit much of the money they send is simply stolen?
Falling support for aid suggests they won’t. To keep the funding taps turned on, Ukraine needs to purge its government of thieves — but that might be beyond Zelenskyy’s powers.
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