Despite longstanding concerns about corruption within the Ukrainian government, the United States and allies around the world continue to send massive amounts of money and military equipment to the country amid its ongoing war with Russia.
While such aid received bipartisan support in the weeks after Russian troops invaded Ukraine last year, Republicans have increasingly soured on a policy of continued spending without any assurances that the money will not end up lining the pockets of Ukrainian officials.
Just months before the Russian invasion, President Joe Biden addressed the issue of corruption in the context of Ukraine’s desire to join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
“It depends on whether they meet the criteria,” he said during a visit to Belgium in June 2021. “The fact is they still have to clean up corruption. The fact is they have to meet other criteria to get into the Action Plan. And so, it’s — you know, school is out on that question. It remains to be seen.”
Of course, the White House has been silent on concerns about how Ukraine is spending the $113 billion already allocated in multiple aid packages.
'Since the war began, Ukraine🇺🇦 has been buying diesel from Russia🇷🇺…the $400 million was the skim on just the oil money'
–@SeymourMHersh details how Zelensky's government allegedly embezzled $400 million of US aid to Ukraine
— Going Underground (@GUnderground_TV) April 24, 2023
For his part, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John Sopko referenced his own experiences over the course of more than a decade in that position to determine that without proper oversight, it is just a matter of time before U.S. cash ends up in the wrong hands.
“That money is flowing like manna from the sky,” he said. “If you don’t get in there soon, you’re going to see pilferage.”
In an interview earlier this year, Sopko offered a similar outlook, explaining: “When you spend so much money so quickly, with so little oversight, you’re going to have fraud, waste, and abuse. Massive amounts.”
Aside from Ukraine’s track record of corruption, he noted that the U.S. Agency for International Development, through which much of the money is being disbursed, is notoriously incapable of providing adequate oversight.
“We’ve always had more problems with AID,” he concluded. “In Afghanistan, my experience with them is they have not been a very well-run organization.”