The corruption scandal in Ukraine: the US promises “strict monitoring” of aid

The corruption scandal in Ukraine: the US promises “strict monitoring” of aid

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The United States vowed to closely monitor how Ukraine spends billions of dollars in aid on Tuesday after a devastating corruption scandal that led to a series of resignations in Kyiv.

While Washington said there was no evidence that Western funds had been misused, US State Department spokesman Ned Price promised there would be “strict monitoring” to ensure US aid was not diverted.

Several high-ranking Ukrainian officials were fired on Tuesday in the wake of a corruption scandal surrounding illegal payments to deputy ministers and overinflated military contracts.

A total of five regional governors, four deputy ministers and two state agency heads left their posts, as did the deputy head of the presidential administration and the deputy attorney general.

In his evening address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the purge was “necessary” to maintain a “strong country”, while Price hailed it as “swift” and “essential”.

Still, the scandal comes at a sensitive time for Kyiv, as it seeks increasing support from the West and confronts Russian advances in the east.

Corruption could dampen Western enthusiasm for the Ukrainian government, which has a long history of shaky governance.

Over the weekend, anti-corruption police arrested the deputy infrastructure minister on suspicion of accepting a €367,000 bribe to buy expensive generators, an allegation he denies.

It comes as Ukrainian civilians endure prolonged power outages amid crippling Russian strikes on the country’s energy infrastructure.

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian newspaper investigation accused the Ministry of Defense of signing contracts to supply food to frontline troops at “two to three” times the price.

According to analysts, the noisy resignations show that corruption carries not only criminal, but also political responsibility.

“This is a good example of how institutions and mechanisms to fight corruption and checks and balances have been created after [2014 Maidan] The revolution of dignity is working despite full-scale war,” Kateryna Ryzhenko of Transparency International Ukraine, an anti-corruption NGO, told Euronews.

“But the final part of these events must be played by the prosecution, the investigative body and the court, when these cases are decided with the full rigor of the law,” she added.

Ukraine’s defense ministry, which is said to have signed expensive contracts worth 320 million euros, said the resignations would help “maintain the trust of the public and international partners”.

On Sunday, he dismissed the allegations as “disinformation”, warning that they harmed “defense interests during a special period”.

In January, the leader of Russia’s Chechen Republic criticized Western aid to Ukraine as a “money laundering scheme”.

“I see that some are worried about foreign aid to Ukraine. Do not worry! This is a working money laundering scheme. Western and Ukrainian officials will embezzle these funds and no more than 15% of all aid will reach the trenches,” Ramzan Kadyrov wrote on Telegram.

There is no evidence for this claim from Putin’s staunch ally.

Zelensky was elected in 2019 on the promise of wide-ranging reforms to fight corruption and improve the economy.

During his tenure, the Ukrainian president fired many ministers and officials as he fought against the malign influence of powerful people in the country.

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