Corruption in Afghanistan offers lessons for billions going to Ukraine

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed top officials due to corruption, prompting U.S. lawmakers to consider appointing a West-special inspector general for Ukraine, like in Afghanistan, to oversee the $113 billion U.S. military, financial, and humanitarian aid.

Context: Zelenskyy has been battling high-level corruption, and Transparency International ranks Ukraine as the second most corrupt state in Europe, only surpassed by Russia.
* Zelenskyy dismissed all two dozen regional military recruiters and other high-ranking officials on corruption charges, including those involved in inflating prices for state construction projects and creating bogus documents for potential recruits.

U.S Efforts: The significant amount of aid allocated to Ukraine has raised concerns about proper oversight and the effectiveness of these funds.
* Over 17 U.S. agencies are operating in Ukraine, along with several other countries and international organizations, which requires careful coordination.
* The Biden Administration requested another $20 billion from Congress, but some lawmakers believe it’s important to have a special inspector general for Ukraine, like in Afghanistan, to prevent wastage and corruption.

What’s next: Despite some pushback from the White House, discussions are underway to create an inspector general position for Ukraine as part of the defense authorization bill.
* It is suspected that the conflict will be resolved in the conference committee as the House-passed defense authorization bill supports the creation of an inspector general for Ukraine; the Senate measure does not.

Insights from Afghanistan: John Sopko, the Inspector General for Afghanistan, emphasized the need for on-ground oversight and voiced concerns about overwhelming the country with funds without sufficient checks in place.
* Sopko cautioned about the danger of “sending too much money too fast” without adequate oversight, leading to waste and other issues.
* He underlined the need for coordination, people on the ground, and the oversight of the fund’s expenditure considering Ukraine’s history of corruption.

View original article on NPR

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