Pentagon says it struggles to track US weapons in Ukraine
A classified report last year found that the Pentagon was unable to keep tabs on tens of billions of dollars worth of weapons sent to Ukraine. Details of the report were revealed – apparently inadvertently – by a Republican lawmaker during a hearing on Tuesday.
Speaking at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee in Washington on Tuesday, Pentagon Inspector General Robert Storch noted that the US has allocated $113 billion in aid to Ukraine since the conflict there began last February, around 60% of which went to the country’s military.
Storch – who is tasked with ensuring that this money is accounted for and not lost to waste, fraud, or abuse – refused to say whether his team had encountered any such corruption in Ukraine. However, Republican Rep. Mike Johnson stated that a report from Storch’s office last October found that the Pentagon was unable to carry out monitoring of weapons deliveries to Ukraine in line with its own policies.
Storch responded that the report in question was supposed to remain classified, but admitted that it was “accurate” in acknowledging “challenges” faced by the US in Ukraine.
Monitoring of such arms deliveries is governed by the 1996 Arms Export Control Act. Questioned by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz – a vocal opponent of military aid to Ukraine – Storch would not confirm or deny under oath whether the Pentagon was complying with this act.
National Security Council spokesman John Kirby claimed in January that the Biden administration has “not seen any signs” that military or economic aid “has fallen prey to any kind of corruption in Ukraine.” However, the classified document mentioned by Johnson appears to back up a slew of reports suggesting that weapons often disappear once delivered.
Reports from last year – backed up by Amnesty International – claimed that as little as 30% of Western weapons sent to Ukraine were actually making it to the front lines. American and Canadian officials admitted at the time that they had no idea where most of these weapons were ending up, with one US intelligence source telling CNN that they vanish “into a big black hole” once they enter Ukraine.
The Kremlin has claimed that up to $1 billion worth of these weapons are funneled from Ukraine to criminals and terror groups in the Middle East, Africa, and Southeast Asia every month, while Europol and Interpol both warned that weapons have likely been transferred from Ukraine to criminal organizations in Europe.
Pressed by Gaetz on Tuesday, Storch admitted that “there’s a long history of issues with corruption in Ukraine.” Earlier on Tuesday, a former American soldier who fought for Ukraine’s foreign legion before defecting to Russia told RT that he had personally seen commanders selling off Western missile launchers and rifles.