A confidential memo from the State Department reveals that the Biden administration has concerns that the level of corruption in Ukraine could result in Western allies distrusting the Zelensky administration and deciding to no longer back it, or the war.
It also reveals that, as the White House is pushing to remedy corruption, they don't want to be too public about it lest that result in less support both at home and among European allies for the war effort. Many Republicans in the House of Representatives oppose further funding for the war, and have insisted that no more money go to that cause.
A confidential US strategy document obtained by Politico warns that "Perceptions of high-level corruption" may "undermine the Ukrainian public’s and foreign leaders’ confidence in the war-time government."
In April, Seymour Hersh revealed that, according to sources familiar with the matter, Zelensky and other Ukrainian officials collectively embezzled up to $400 million in American aid meant to go towards the purchase of diesel.
The document reportedly shows that the White House is attempting to help Kyiv reform and alleviate the graft that runs rampant in Ukrainian government. This is the confidential version of a document posted by the State Department on August 29. That document mentions corruption multiple times, saying that "Though the biggest challenge is winning the war, Ukraine has a unique opportunity in the current moment to commit to the anti-corruption and judicial reforms needed to realize the aspirations of the Ukrainian people."
It mentions as a "mission goal" for the future for Ukraine to "Win the Peace: Ukraine strengthens its civil society and democratic and economic institutions and implements anti-corruption reforms to achieve sustainable momentum towards Euro-Atlantic integration to win a secure and just future that delivers prosperity for all its citizens." The idea is that if Ukraine can decrease the amount of corruption in government, they will have a better "integration with Europe."
While that document is 22 pages long, the confidential version is substantially longer, and details more objectives as to how the US will assist Ukraine. This includes in the banking and education sector, as well as encouraging the military to adopt NATO protocols. Ukraine has pressed to be permitted to join NATO. Russia, which invaded Ukraine in February 2022, has seen this as an act of aggression, since it puts the west directly outside Russia's front door.
Zelensky has made some high-profile firings in recent month, and has gone on the offensive against Ukrainian oligarchs, including locking up Igor Kolomoisky, who funded Zelensky's acting career, his political career, and has been called the "puppet master behind" Zelensky by the Atlantic Council. Zelensky also fired six defense ministers ahead of a trip he made to the US to demand more funding from Congress. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy refused to let him address a joint session of Congress.
Earlier this year, Zelensky fired nine senior government officials amid accusations that they had used government money to fund their own luxury vacations. Military recruiters were fired for taking bribes.
When Biden was Vice President under the Obama administration, he spoke out against corruption in Ukraine. At one point, he touted his achievement at withholding $1 billion in approved funding to Ukraine until President Poroshenko fired top prosecutor Victor Shokin. Biden claimed Shokin was corrupt.
It was later revealed that Shokin was investigating Ukrainian energy company Burisma, on whose board Hunter Biden sat, earning $83,000 per month to do so. An FBI memo from an informant shows that the Burisma CEO paid the Bidens a collective $10 million to ease and facilitate their entry into US markets, which was a much more difficult undertaking while the company was being investigated for corruption. Shokin said he was fired at Biden's urging.
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