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Ukrainian politicians stealing Western aid – ex-Polish deputy defense minister

The comments come days after Kiev uncovered another major arms corruption case

The Ukrainian military and politicians do not believe in victory, and expecting defeat, are stealing Western aid on a massive scale, former land forces commander and former deputy head of the Polish Defense Ministry, Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak, has said in an interview with the newspaper Fakt.

The statement comes as Kiev attempts to secure more funding amid its supporters’ growing reluctance to provide further assistance. So far, more than 41 countries, including Poland, have committed a total of €92.5 billion ($100 billion) in military aid to Ukraine, according to the Ukraine Support Tracker of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy.

Ukraine’s Western donors risk losing substantial sums, as the country has weathered a number of corruption scandals over the last few months.

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The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) announced on Saturday the uncovering of a major embezzlement scheme involving high-ranking defense ministry officials and a private arms manufacturer.

“It turns out that the weakest link in Ukraine are politicians and military officers who steal from their army. This is not the first such scandal. Those who steal do this consciously expecting that Ukraine will lose the war. How can you wage war without ammunition? There are hundreds of millions of dollars embezzled by Ukrainians,” Skrzypczak said.

Five suspects among them employees of the Ministry of Defense and the management of an arms company attempted to steal 1.5 billion hryvnia (around $39.6 million) in state funds intended for acquiring mortar shells for Ukrainian troops, according to the SBU. The agency said the company Lviv Arsenal had received an order for a batch of 100,000 rounds in August 2022, six months after the start of the conflict. However, Lviv Arsenal “didn’t send a single mortar shell to our country” but instead put the money in the accounts of an affiliated company “based in the Balkans,” the SBU said.

Reining in corruption is one of the conditions the European Union has set for Ukraine as it seeks membership. However, embezzlement issues are still dogging the armed forces and the defense ministry.

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Ukrainian law enforcement officers performing a search at the homes of one of the suspects.
Ukraine reveals $40mn mortar shells fraud scheme

In September, Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov was dismissed from his post over graft allegations. His successor, Rustem Umerov, announced earlier this month that a probe he had initiated revealed $262 million in theft-related costs in weapons procurement.

Skrzypczak has concluded that Ukrainians “cannot be trusted.” “We’re tearing ourselves apart, clearing out warehouses, and they’re embezzling everything they can,” he said, lamenting that “Zelensky promised to sort it out, but he didn’t. There is still corruption in the Ukrainian army. This makes our help pointless. We do it with faith, dedication; we are deceived.”

Poland has provided €3.04 billion in military aid, according to the Kiel Institute’s tracker on how much nations have donated to Ukraine. In September, Poland said it would stop sending weapons to Ukraine “focusing instead on its own defense.”

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January 31, 2024 at 02:28PM
RT

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