Shocking Corruption Found in Ukrainian Defense Ministry

Shocking Corruption Found in Ukrainian Defense Ministry

( – In the US, officials are arguing over whether or not to provide more funding to Ukraine. The vast majority of lawmakers agree that the US benefits from a strong, sovereign Ukrainian government. They also are mostly unified in the belief that Russian President Vladimir Putin should not be allowed to just invade another country and steal its land.

However, some Republicans have been sounding the alarm over corruption in Ukraine for years. They have demanded the US and Ukrainian governments provide an accounting of where the money is going. A recent incident highlights the need for that accounting.

Shocking Corruption

The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) recently announced that five people schemed to steal 1.5 billion hryvnias (approximately $39.6 million). The money was from a 2022 purchase of mortar rounds meant to go to Ukrainian soldiers who are on the front lines beating back Russia.

The Washington Post reported the SBU said the scheme involved multiple former and current high-ranking Defense Ministry officials. They were in cahoots with the managers of an arms supplier, Lviv Arsenal. The officials were required to use the money, which came from the state, not foreign countries, and purchase 100,000 mortar rounds.

The government paid Lviv Arsenal in August 2022, but the company never supplied the mortar rounds. The company’s management transferred part of the funds to “the balance sheet of a foreign commercial structure that was supposed to deliver” the ammunition to the Ukrainian military. Instead of using the money for ammo, the officials transferred the funds to accounts in the Balkans.

Former Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov was in charge when the theft occurred. He was ousted in 2023 after multiple complaints of corruption. Although he wasn’t implicated in any of it personally, it wasn’t a good look.

The SBU reported the money has been seized, and authorities are trying to return it to Ukraine’s government. The officials and Lviv Arsenal employees responsible for the theft are each facing more than a decade in prison.

Issues Persist

The arrests highlight the persistent problem Ukraine has with corruption. Last fall, an aide to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the country had suffered “reputational damage” around the globe because of it. One person said there are officials who are “stealing like there’s no tomorrow.”

In October, Republicans on the House Budget Committee asked Office of Management and Budget Director Shalanda Young to provide an accounting of all the money the US has sent to Ukraine. It doesn’t appear the federal government ever honored that request.

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