The Defense Department’s internal watchdog has found a lack of accountability in U.S. aid to Ukrainian forces fending off the Russian invasion and that U.S.-supplied weapons are sometimes ending up in the hands of criminal gangs.
The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project obtained the 19-page report by the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General through the Freedom of Information Act.
“In late June 2022, the SBU disrupted a group of Ukrainian criminals posing as members of a humanitarian aid organization who distributed bulletproof vests,” the report says. “The group illicitly imported the vests and sold them, rather than distributed them to Ukrainian forces. A member of the group was found with a cache of vests worth $17,000.”
The “SBU” refers to the Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrainy, or the Security Service of Ukraine.
The report, only now made public, was issued last Oct. 6. Since the Russian invasion in February 2022, the United States has given more than $100 billion in assistance to Ukraine, which includes military, humanitarian and financial aid. In April of this year, Congress approved an emergency $35.4 billion aid package to Ukraine.
“During the evaluation, we found that the DoD was unable to provide ‘[end-use] monitoring (EUM) in accordance with DOD policy because of limited U.S. presence in Ukraine,” says the report, written by Jefferson L. DuBinok, the acting assistant inspector general for evaluations program, combatant commands and overseas contingency operations. “Therefore, we are issuing this report identifying the challenges faced by DoD personnel responsible for conducting EUM and Enhanced EUM (EEUM) when there are limited or no U.S. personnel present in the area the equipment is being used.”
The report goes on to cite other examples of U.S. weapons falling into the wrong hands.
“In late June 2022, the SBU disrupted a group of arms traffickers who were selling weapons and ammunition stolen from the front lines in southern Ukraine,” the report says.
Other groups and individuals illegally stored weapons provided by the United States, according to the report.
“In mid-August 2022, the SBU disrupted a group of volunteer battalion ‘members who took more than 60 rifles and almost 1,000 rounds of ammunition and stored them illegally in a warehouse, presumably for sale on the black market,” the report says.
Last week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which would call for a special inspector general to oversee spending in Ukraine – similar to those of past conflicts, such as in Afghanistan.
The Biden administration opposes the move for a special inspector general that would mean additional oversight arguing in a statement that the Pentagon inspector general and the Government Accountability Office “are currently undertaking multiple investigations regarding every aspect of this assistance — from assessing the [department’s] processes for developing security assistance requirements to evaluating the end-use monitoring processes for delivered assistance — at the request of the Congress.”
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