Corruption In Ukraine & The U.S. Mutually Rewarding

Alleged to be Ukrainian Minister of Defense Resnikov’s newest ride, this Mercedes Benz SLR MacLaren 999 has gilded tires, a diamond-inlaid cabin, and costs $11 million.

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.

The Obamas’ “palatial” home on Martha’s Vineyard is an example of U.S. political corruption. The former president has been rewarded lavishly for presiding over banks getting bailed out while we, the people, got sold out.

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

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.

NATO Summit Turns Its Back On Zelensky And Pivots To China

As the collective West turned its back on a bad actor, Russia turned its back on a grain deal that was supposed to feed the Global South.

Many have commented on — and photoshopped — what is by now an iconic photo from last week’s NATO summit in Vilnius. For example:

This rendition plays on the fact that Ukrainian President Zelensky’s image seems to demand he dress in pseudo Army fatigues at all times, even formal dinners in a European capitol. So, he looks more like the janitor than a power broker. The yellow bucket plays nicely next to Mrs. Zelensky’s blue dress to invoke the ubiquitous flag adopted by liberals in support of the Democratic Party’s signature proxy war. (Said flags are looking rather tattered and faded these days as Ukraine’s spring-no-wait-more-like-summer offensive sputters out with little accomplished.)

President Zelensky was possibly the only person in Vilnius who expected Ukraine to be invited to join NATO. Instead he was rebuffed but told that his real soldiers can keep fighting and dying while the West dials back its financial support and supplies of military equipment. Consolation prize: cluster bombs for Ukraine! These are on the shelf in the U.S. arsenal, mostly because when used they are extremely destructive of both children and public approval.

(Note that Politico’s National Security Daily is brought to you by one of the big dogs of the U.S. military industrial complex, the true winners of the proxy war on Russia via Ukraine.)

President Zelensky lashed out at being snubbed and a UK government official admonished him to show more gratitude for what he’s already received. (President Zelensky has reportedly become immensely wealthy skimming off foreign aid and can easily afford a business suit to wear to these sort of gatherings. His public relations staff no doubt advised against it.)

What was most significant about the NATO summit lay to the east. This surprised no one who has recognized that weakening Russia is merely the prelude to taking on the West’s major competitor, China. Why? “The deepening strategic partnership between the PRC and Russia and their mutually reinforcing attempts to undercut the rules-based international order run counter to our values and interests.”

Since when is Japan in NATO? Or Australia, New Zealand, and South Korea for that matter? ODD ANDERSEN/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES

From NATO’s Vilnius Summit Communique:

The People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values. We remain open to constructive engagement with the PRC, including to build reciprocal transparency, with a view to safeguarding the Alliance’s security interests.

As reported by Shannon Tiezzi in The Diplomat,

NATO leaders called out China for “malicious hybrid and cyber operations and its confrontational rhetoric and disinformation” and accused Beijing of striving “to subvert the rules-based international order, including in the space, cyber and maritime domains.” The statement also expressed concern over China’s attempts to “ to control key technological and industrial sectors, critical infrastructure, and strategic materials and supply chains” and “create strategic dependencies.” 

Note: the U.S. has relied heavily in recent years on its made-up concept “rules-based international order” which translates to “f**k international law and the UN, the powerful do as they will and the weak submit as they must.”

China was not slow to respond. The Chinese mission to the EU had its spokesperson issue a statement that included the following:

the Communiqué arbitrarily distorts China’s stance and policies, and deliberately smears China. We firmly oppose and reject this accusation..

The trend of the world is surging forward. We urge NATO to go with the trend of the times, listen to the just call of the international community for peace, development and cooperation, correct its misperceptions and policies, and play a constructive role in world peace and stability. 

We would like to make it clear to NATO that the Chinese side is firm in its resolve to safeguard its sovereignty, security and development interests. We firmly oppose NATO’s eastward movement into the Asia-Pacific region and any action that jeopardizes China’s legitimate rights and interests will be met with a resolute response.

Meanwhile, Russia announced it was withdrawing from the cooperative agreement to allow grain shipping through the Black Sea. Intended as a way to mute the effects of the Ukraine war on food supplies in the Global South, instead the deal resulted in Ukraine re-selling the grain to Europe. Russia had warned several times that if the other part of the deal, that of lifting restrictions on their export of food and fertilizer, they would let the agreement expire.

The West can now claim that Russia has abandoned the humanitarian goals of the grain shipping deal. And the heavily propagandized public in NATO nations will eat this analysis up, much like they still cling to the absurd notion that Russia’s entry into Ukraine’s civil war in February 2022 was “unprovoked.”

Some are suggesting that the straw that broke the grain deal’s back was the use of a civilian ship carrying grain to launch drones that blew up the Kerch Strait bridge, injuring a teenager and killing her parents. But actually the cancellation announcement preceded the attack. (Ukraine recently took belated credit for the October 2022 attack on the bridge that links Russia and Crimea, an attack that used a suicide truck bomber rather than underwater drones.)

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pointed out that NATO players are likely involved, too. 

Decisions are made by Ukrainian officials and the military with the direct participation of American and British intelligence agencies and politicians. The U.S. and Britain are in charge of a terrorist state structure.

Meanwhile you may be wondering, who will be the proxy assigned to fight China on behalf of NATO? Taiwan, Japan, and Australia are all in the running. Maybe Hong Kong and New Zealand too? Stay tuned.