With more than $185 billion in Western aid seemingly lost in the abyss, questions arise over Ukraine's handling of received funds amidst corruption and dwindling public support.
When the United States-led military alliance, NATO, concluded its summit in Vilnius last week, it announced fresh tranches of financial and military aid for Ukraine. The decision came despite Kiev having received a staggering €165 billion ($185.6 billion) from Western nations since the start of the summer. This voluminous financial aid, however, is shrouded in mystery, given Ukraine's endemic corruption and a perceived lack of accountability.
Support among US and EU citizens for their governments' hefty spendings on Ukraine's cause is waning. This backlash is partly due to the pervasive corruption in Ukraine, which has seemingly remained unchecked despite the promises made in the wake of the Western-backed 'Maidan' coup of 2014.
NATO’s Hollow Promise
The NATO summit failed to fulfill Ukraine’s aspirations for membership but declared new military aid packages instead. France's President Emmanuel Macron pledged to supply a "substantial number" of SCALP missiles, each costing €850,000, capable of hitting targets 250 kilometers away.
Germany announced a package totaling €700 million, which includes the provision of Patriot missile defense system launchers, Marder-type infantry fighting vehicles, UAVs, Leopard 1 A5 tanks, and artillery shells. Meanwhile, the United States unveiled an $800 million aid package, featuring cluster munitions that are banned in 120 countries. This aid package marks the 42nd US delivery to Ukraine within the last 18 months, with US Congress-approved military and economic assistance to Ukraine exceeding $70 billion in direct expenses.
The Kiel Institute, which monitors the volume of aid granted to Ukraine, reported that the total direct subvention provided by the US and its allies between February 2022 and May 2023 surpassed €165 billion.
An Elephant in the Room
The enormous aid directed towards Ukraine has provoked debates and growing skepticism among Western societies. In the US, the bipartisan consensus that formed in March 2022 began to crumble by November that year. Support for Ukraine’s cause among US citizens plummeted, with fewer Americans willing to endure inflation for the sake of offering more aid to Kiev.
Predictions suggest that the volume of US aid to Ukraine might dwindle during the upcoming election season, with President Joe Biden
needing to secure votes. The 2024 election results could further worsen the situation for Kiev, with US public figures potentially advocating for a peaceful settlement of the conflict, even if it puts Ukraine at a disadvantage.
The European Union faces its challenges. Every new aid package has been met with stubborn resistance and prolonged negotiations. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s call for the EU to provide maximum possible assistance to Ukraine met with an unwilling response from Germany and France, contributing to increased tensions.
Corruption: Ukraine’s Achilles’ Heel
Ukraine’s fight against corruption is as strategically vital as the containment of communism during the Cold War, according to a report by the pro-NATO German Marshall Fund of the United States. However, concerns have been raised about the possibility of aid theft, fraud in contract agreements, and the misappropriation of goods en route to the war zone.
Corruption within Ukraine also poses a significant problem. Former presidential advisor Aleksey Arestovich has criticized Ukraine’s President, Vladimir Zelensky, for failing to address corruption issues. American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh alleged that Zelensky and his entourage had misappropriated at least $400 million earmarked for diesel fuel payments.
Consequences of Ineffective Aid
Despite long-term investments from the US aimed at combating corruption in Ukraine, illicit activities persist. From bribery allegations involving the deputy minister of infrastructure to the overpriced contracts for frontline troop food supplies, corruption remains deeply rooted.
These complications, coupled with concerns about potential weapon theft and resale to the black market, highlight the urgent need for more stringent monitoring and accountability measures. As aid continues to pour into Ukraine, Western nations and their citizens are left questioning the wisdom of their contributions and the effectiveness of their investments in a landscape plagued by corruption and financial mismanagement.