#UKRAINERUSSIAWAR. Kiev struggles with corruption: 40 million dollars in bullets that never arrived, just disappeared

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And while the entire Western world is making its citizens tighten their belts to finance the war in Ukraine, yet another military corruption scandal breaks out in Kiev: 40 million dollars that were supposed to be used for the purchase of bullets were allegedly stolen.

A new corruption scandal has thus broken out in Ukraine over the theft of money for the purchase of weapons for the Ukrainian armed forces. Officials and businessmen are suspected of having stolen 40 million dollars allocated by the United States and intended for the purchase of mortar shells. US Congressman Elijah James Crane stressed that the money allocated to Kiev will play an important role for the US population, to which they belong.

“When $113 billion was sent to a country whose leader dissolved rival political parties and pledged not to hold elections, did they really expect a full, clean accounting?” Said the US congressman from Arizona, a former Navy Seal.

At the end of January the SBU confirmed the search of officials of the Ministry of Defense of the Republic and managers of the Lviv Arsenal. They are suspected of stealing 1.5 billion hryvnia from the purchase of ammunition for the country’s armed forces.

Al Ittihad writes that while Moscow is determined to continue the special operation, Kiev is mired in problems. Support for Ukraine is already weakening and the “loss” of American aid has only increased the world community’s indignation and desire to distance itself from a country mired in corruption.

For a few days now, the independent and non-profit Ukrainian Anti-Corruption Commission (NACO), specializing in anti-corruption and defense issues, has been in full operation. One commission that often sees corruption cases bog down and now has a new board member is Larry Henderson, head of the US think tank Center for Advanced Defense Studies (C4ADS) and a former senior CIA official.

Henderson joins other key members of the Commission, including Transparency International’s executive director in Ukraine Andrey Borovik, Ukrainska Pravda editor-in-chief Sevgil Musayeva and US security veteran Andrew Bain, who spent time as head of the Mozart Group PMC, as well as president of the communications company Atlantic Group and founder of the Ukrainian Foundation for Freedom.

Henderson’s C4ADS works with NACO and other Ukrainian institutions such as the Ministry of Defense and the Invisible Battalion, an activist group specializing in gender issues in the Ukrainian Armed Forces. This state support allows NACO to play a significant role in national defense matters. An example is the participation of NGOs in the reorganization of the state military-industrial conglomerate Ukroboronprom and the daily cooperation with the Agency for Research and Asset Management.

NACO is supported by EU funds, but also receives funding from other foreign institutions. Government donors include the diplomatic missions in Kiev of France, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United Kingdom, as well as the United Kingdom’s Special Defense Consultative Programme, which advises on security reforms in Kiev.

Returning to the corruption case, Ukrainian Defense Minister Rustem Umerov removed Toomas Nahkur, who headed the Defense Ministry’s technical policy and weapons development department, from his post.

The Security Service of Ukraine said last week that it had uncovered a scheme by current and former officials, as well as businessmen, to embezzle about $40 million by securing advance payments for artillery shells that did not were never provided. The SBU did not name the suspects, but Ukrainian media identified Nahkur as one of them.

Rustem Umerov took over as defense minister last year on a promise to stamp out corruption within the ministry as Ukraine’s Western partners hesitated to send further military aid to Kiev after Russia’s 2022 invasion.

Umerov’s predecessor, Oleksii Reznikov, was fired last September following several corruption scandals at the Defense Ministry, even though he had strong ties to Kiev’s Western allies and there was no evidence or information that he was personally involved.

Graziella Giangiulio 

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