U.S. Officials Reassure Lawmakers on Oversight, Accountability Amid Ukrainian Corruption Allegations
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Next month will mark one year of Russia's war on Ukraine. Recently, President Biden announced the U.S. will send Abrams tanks to Ukraine to push back Russian forces. Following that announcement, concerns started rising after top Ukrainian officials were fired or resigned amid an alleged corruption scandal. Officials are reassuring lawmakers that U.S. support for Ukraine is not ending up in the wrong hands.
In a Senate Foreign Relations hearing, the primary focus was on combating Russia's aggression long-term, specifically with Ukraine.
“We will continue to support your heroic efforts to achieve victory,” said Sen. Bob Menendez (D- NJ), the Chairman of the committee. “We will stand with you as you fight for your homeland against a dictator trying to erase your nation by force.”
Since the war began, the U.S. has provided billions in military and humanitarian aid. During this hearing, officials from the State Department and the Department of Defense are reassuring senators that the assistance the U.S. is providing is getting to the right hands.
The New York Times is reporting several top Ukrainian officials were fired a couple of days ago amid a corruption scandal. The Times reports of allegations that Ukraine's military had agreed to pay inflated prices for food meant for their troops. The Times report said there was no sign that this scandal involved any misappropriation of western military assistance.
U.S. officials are praising Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for trying to weed out any corruption.
“President Zelensky’s decision this week to fire and accept the resignations of officials suspected of corruption sends a strong signal of Ukraine's own resolve in this regard,” said Victoria Nuland, the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs at the Department of State. “We continue to support essential reform and anti-corruption by the Ukrainian government across the country. Ukraine must not just survive this war, it must emerge stronger, cleaner, more democratic, more European. That's what Ukraine’s patriots are fighting for that is also central to the support from the U.S. and our international partners provide.”
This alleged corruption scandal comes at a time when the U.S. and others have announced they’re sending tanks to Ukraine, something Zelensky has asked western countries for to push back Russian forces. The Department of Defense said they have always prioritized accountability.
“The U.S. government has not seen credible evidence of any diversion of U.S. provided weapons outside of Ukraine,” said Celeste Wallander, Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs at the DOD. “Instead, we see Ukraine's front-line units effectively employing security assistance every day on the battlefield.”