Washington Is Quietly Concerned About Ukrainian Corruption

Approaching the issue thoughtfully and effectively is key

Written by Jack Elbaum

What’s happening: The U.S. has issued multiple notices to Kyiv over the past few weeks about rooting out government corruption. Future non-military aid may be dependent on Ukraine’s progress. This comes off the heels of a Politico report, based on a confidential document, which exposed the U.S. government’s previously undisclosed heightened level of concern about Ukrainian corruption.

Why it matters: The Biden administration wants to support Ukraine as it defends its territory against Russia. At the same time, it’s concerned that hundreds of billions in funding could be lost to corruption.

  • Catch up: A since-censored report from CBS at the early stages of the war showed that only 30 percent of the military aid to Ukraine was going where it needed to go, while the rest was lost to corruption. There have also been multiple major scandals since the war began, unsurprisingly, considering Ukraine was ranked the most corrupt country in Europe before the war.

  • Popular support: By airing concerns about the latter publicly, the administration puts its ability to maintain popular support for Ukraine in jeopardy. Support for Ukraine has been steadily decreasing on both sides of the political aisle, and now a majority of Americans oppose additional aid.

What’s next? The U.S. is urging Ukraine to take steps toward strengthening the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office and oversight mechanisms for Ukrainian state-owned companies, along with implementing anti-money laundering reforms in their International Monetary Fund program.

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