Ukraine corruption scandal: US promises ‘rigorous monitoring’ of aid

On Tuesday, the United States vowed to strictly monitor how Ukraine spends billions of dollars in aid, after a corruption scandal led to several resignations in Kiev.

While Washington said there was no evidence of misuse of Western funds, US State Department spokesman Ned Price vowed to keep a strong eye on US aid to ensure it was not diverted.

Several senior Ukrainian officials were fired on Tuesday amid a corruption scandal involving illegal payments to deputy ministers and inflated military contracts.

A total of five regional administrators. Four deputy ministers and two heads of government agencies resigned, including the president’s deputy chief of staff and deputy attorney general.

In his nightly speech, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said the purge was “necessary” to maintain a “solid state,” while Price hailed it as “quick” and “essential.”

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However, the scandal comes at a sensitive time for Kiev as it faces increasing support from the West and Russia’s advance in the east.

Corruption could dampen Western enthusiasm for Ukraine’s government, which has a long history of shaky governance.

Over the weekend, anti-corruption police arrested the deputy minister for infrastructure on suspicion of paying €367,000 in bribes to buy more expensive generators, allegations he denies.

It comes as Ukrainian civilians endure prolonged power outages due to Russian sanctions on the country’s energy infrastructure.

At the same time, An investigation by a Ukrainian newspaper alleged that the Ministry of Defense had signed contracts to supply food to front-line troops at two to three times the normal price.

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Corruption is not only a crime but also a political liability, according to analysts who resigned from top positions.

“This is a good example after establishing institutions and anti-corruption and checks and balances mechanisms. [2014 Maidan] The Revolution of Dignity is working despite all the wars,” Kateryna Ryzhenko of Transparency International Ukraine, an anti-corruption NGO, told Euronews.

“But the last part of these events, the prosecution, “The investigation team and the courts should be involved when making judgments to the full extent of the law,” he added.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense, which allegedly signed contracts worth 320 million euros, said the withdrawal would help preserve the trust of society and international partners.

On Sunday, it dismissed the allegations as “misinformation” and warned that they harmed “defense interests” during a special period.

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

“I see that some people are worried about giving foreign aid to Ukraine. Don’t worry, this is a money laundering scheme. The West and Ukrainian officials will misuse these funds, and no more than 15% of all aid will go to the trenches,” Ramzan Kadyrov wrote on Telegram.

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

Zelenskyy was elected in 2019 promising sweeping reforms to fight corruption and improve the economy.

During his tenure as president of Ukraine, several ministers and officials were dismissed as he tried to combat the malign influence of powerful people in the country.

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