Ukraine’s War Tab: $100 Million Per Day

Ukraine’s recently ousted Defence Minister, Oleksii Reznikov, disclosed that Ukraine is shelling out roughly $100 million a day to fund its war against Russia. The information comes at a critical juncture, as corruption allegations cloud Ukraine’s defense efforts and Western powers debate sending more aid to the embattled nation.

“A day of war costs us 100 million dollars,” Reznikov stated in his first interview since his removal from office. He continued, “The army today is the largest consumer of funds. But funds are also needed to maintain the country as a whole: for infrastructure, reconstruction, and supporting the socially vulnerable.”

While Ukraine bears the brunt of the war, funding comes from multiple sources. Reznikov emphasized the role of Ukraine’s tax-paying citizens, saying, “The working citizens of Ukraine are maintaining the army today because they pay taxes, and these taxes go to the budget, and from this budget, they also go to the army.”

Yet, how much of the daily $100 million comes from Ukrainians themselves, as opposed to taxpayers in the United States and Europe, remains a question that Reznikov conspicuously left unanswered. This ambiguity gains significance as reports of corruption and mismanagement surface.

The Defence Ministry’s credibility has taken a beating lately, with numerous allegations of financial improprieties. The New York Times reported that some funds intended for military contracts “failed to produce weaponry or ammunition and that some money has vanished.” Although Reznikov has not been directly implicated, his dismissal could be seen as an effort to cleanse the system of pervasive corruption and war profiteering.

With elections on the horizon in the United States, voters are increasingly skeptical about the federal government’s generosity abroad while domestic issues remain unaddressed. The Biden administration has already committed $113 billion to Ukraine since last year and is now lobbying for an additional $24 billion in aid. Given the swirling corruption scandals in Ukraine, many are questioning the wisdom of pouring more American taxpayer dollars into this foreign quagmire.

It’s worth noting that Reznikov labeled the corruption issue as being weaponized by political rivals and even suggested that Russians might be spreading some corruption allegations to sow dissent. However, these defenses ring hollow when considered against Ukraine’s ranking as Europe’s second most corrupt country. Transparency International gave Ukraine a score of just 33 out of 100 in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index.

As Daria Kaleniuk, the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Ukraine, aptly stated, “Corruption can kill. Depending on how effective we are in guarding the public funds, the soldier will either have a weapon or not have a weapon.”

The question then becomes: Can Western countries justify spending billions more to fund a government embroiled in corruption scandals? In contrast, citizens question the prudence of such international investments. As the war grinds on, the cost — in both dollars and national integrity — is climbing daily.