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27 Apr, 2024 13:31

Much of Ukraine aid stolen – French party leader

Western assistance to Kiev prolongs the conflict with Russia and enriches corrupt officials, Florian Philippot has said
Much of Ukraine aid stolen – French party leader

A large part of Western aid to Kiev is being embezzled by Ukrainian officials, despite President Vladimir Zelensky’s assurances that it is being used in the fight against Russia, a top French politician has said. 

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) on Friday, Florian Philippot, leader of the Patriots (Les Patriotes) party and a long-time vocal critic of Western assistance to Ukraine, alleged that Zelensky was lying when he claimed that all US aid to his country “goes to the battlefield.” 

“In reality a large part is diverted and goes into corruption!” Philippot wrote. He noted Kiev’s admission last month that it had not received €16 billion ($17.1 billion) in aid collected by Poland and the European Commission. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denis Shmigal claimed he had “no idea” what happened to the funds.

Philippot also pointed to a recent corruption scandal involving Ukrainian Agriculture Minister Nikolay Solsky, who is accused of illegally appropriating state land worth nearly €6.9 million ($7.4 million). “Yet another case of corruption in this country, which is one of the most corrupt on the planet!” the French politician remarked. 

“Every euro sent to Ukraine prolongs the war and therefore causes unnecessary deaths, impoverishes us here, and has a strong chance of enriching the corrupt!” he added, calling for the conflict to be resolved as soon as possible. 

Ukraine has been plagued by widespread graft for years, and a 2015 Guardian article described it as “the most corrupt nation in Europe.” More recently, it ranked 104 out of 180 countries in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index. 

The issue has taken center stage during the conflict with Russia, including in the Ukrainian military, which has been rocked by several graft scandals in recent months. This winter, Ukraine’s SBU, the successor to the Soviet-era KGB, announced that it had uncovered a major embezzlement scheme in which Ukrainian officials and private contractors stole around $40 million earmarked for shell procurement. 

Elsewhere, the Pentagon’s inspector general admitted that Washington had failed to properly track more than $1 billion in weapons sent to Ukraine, although this did not stop US officials from claiming that they believed the assistance to have reached its intended destination.

Russia, meanwhile, has for months been warning about the spillover of foreign weapons sent to Ukraine, cautioning that they are ending up in the hands of organized crime outside of the country.