I don’t often write about corruption. It’s not that interesting to me as it seems quite predictable. The powerful will feather their own nests in any system that allows it, and most systems do — having been built with this purpose in mind. So, there are a lifetime’s worth of posts about wealth flowing to corrupt leaders from ordinary people who are struggling to get by.
Even in countries where virtue rather than venality is on display it’s easy to find allegations of corruption emanating from the political opposition. It’s sort of like war crimes. All militaries commit them while accusing the other side of committing them, and it doesn’t seem like a good use of my time to sift through third-hand evidence for the truth.
But I’ve got to say that Ukraine’s leaders are so over the top that it’s becoming impossible to ignore. Add in the fact that they have been enriched by U.S. taxpayers more or less directly despite crumbling infrastructure, catastrophic homelessness, apartheid healthcare, and a host of other problems that the U.S. could address with adequate funding.
From RT (whose editor-in-chief, Margarita Simonyan, just survived a second assassination attempt):
On July 7, US Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Colin Kahl spoke about a new package of aid from the US which includes cluster munitions – which are banned in 120 countries. The cost was $800 million.This is the 42nd delivery of aid that Ukraine has received from the US in the past year and a half.[emphasis mine] Since the beginning of Russia’s offensive, the US Congress has approved military and economic assistance to Ukraine amounting to over $70 billion – and that’s only counting direct expenses..
“Ukraine needs only one thing… To have someone come to power who won’t steal. Someone who won’t do it himself and won’t allow others to do so. Unfortunately, so far we haven’t been lucky,” [Aleksey Arestovich, former advisor to President Zelensky] said.
Ok, so Arestovich has a motive for trashing the government that used to include him. How about Pulitzer Prize-winning U.S. investigative journalist Seymour Hersh? Hersh does not approve of Russia’s entry into the war but he nonetheless published a piece on rampant corruption in Ukraine, “Trading with the Enemy,” back in April.
Zelensky has been buying fuel from Russia, the country with which it, and Washington, are at war, and the Ukrainian president and many in his entourage have been skimming untold millions from the American dollars earmarked for diesel fuel payments. One estimate by analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency put the embezzled funds at $400 million last year, at least; another expert compared the level of corruption in Kiev as approaching that of the Afghan war.
And we’re all familiar with the tale of Hunter Biden’s six figure salary as a director of Burisma, the Ukrainian gas company where he played no role other than sitting next to “the big guy.” President Biden was also alleged in chats recovered from Hunter’s infamous laptop to have received 10% of deals made by his son.
Then there is President Zelensky, elected on pledges to end corruption and, incidentally, the war on the Donbas.
Homes outside Ukraine owned by Zelensky and/or his wife Olenka. Screenshot from Scott Ritter’s video “Agent Zelensky – Part 1“
Pre-2022, i.e. when corporate media headlines about Ukraine did a 180, even The Guardian found he was part of the problem and not likely to be part of the solution.
Neither is the U.S. government likely to be part of the solution. The Pentagon failed its fifth consecutive audit last year, appearing to lose track of 61% of its $3.5 trillion in assets.
From the Washington Examiner:
“DOD’s inability to adequately track assets risks our military readiness and represents a flagrant disregard for taxpayer funds, even as it receives nearly a trillion dollars annually,” Republican lawmakers wrote in a letter to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Liberals will be annoyed with me for quoting a conservative, GOP-aligned media source. Because everything — war, graft, and other corruption — must be viewed through the lens of false dichotomy. If a Republican wins the White House next year, as seems increasingly likely, Democrats will suddenly care (again) about financial malfeasance at the Pentagon and enriching the oligarchs of Ukraine.
Time for those guys to purchase a few more offshore villas before the jig is up.