The U.S. government is struggling to keep track of the billions of dollars sent to Ukraine, even relying on Ukrainian forces and staffers to keep tabs on how the money is being used, according to State Department communications obtained by POLITICO.
A “sensitive but unclassified” State Department cable reviewed by the news outlet showed that the Biden administration plans to rely on the Ukrainian army to “conduct its own inspections” for how the over $50 billion in U.S. aid is being used. The Biden administration will reportedly rely on a U.S. firm beginning in February to help the government by keeping tabs on how the Ukrainians use American dollars and military equipment for up to three years.
According to the cable, the Biden administration also depends on Ukrainian staffers — many of whom aren’t even in the country — to coordinate with a senior embassy official and oversee U.S. aid.
The State Department cable mentioned “a commercial smartphone app” it uses in a public-private partnership project that helps the U.S. government track its assistance to the European country, according to POLITICO.
“The app will provide reliable, tangible evidence that assistance is reaching intended recipients, even in locales too dangerous or difficult for program implementer staff to reach,” the State Department cable from the U.S. embassy in Kyiv states.
Ideally, U.S.-trained inspectors would be on the ground in Ukraine to ensure American aid is being used properly, but the State Department cited the unpredictable environment on the ground in Ukraine as a reason it’s pursuing different ways to oversee how U.S. money and weapons are handled by the Ukrainians. Finding contractors willing to go into high-risk areas to help the government’s oversight has also been problematic.
“Above all, kinetic activity and active combat between Ukrainian and Russian forces create an environment in which standard verification measures are sometimes impracticable or impossible,” the cable, signed by U.S. Ambassador Bridget Brink, says.
Numerous Republican lawmakers have demanded greater oversight of U.S. spending in the Ukraine-Russia conflict, and Russia has labeled U.S. aid to Ukraine an “immediate threat.”
Following a CBS report in August that found that some U.S. aid was not reaching its intended target in Ukraine, GOP representatives blasted Washington elites who continue to send money to Ukraine and expect solutions.
In April, Jonas Ohman, the president of an organization moving aid into Ukraine, told CBS Reports that only “30-40%” of aid was making it to its intended destination. He also said that his group, which does not supply weapons, had to avoid various factions in the country playing “power games” to deliver the aid.
“This news shouldn’t surprise anyone. Like it does with everything else, Congress threw tens of billions of dollars at a problem, patted itself on the back, and called it a day,” Rep. Chip Roy (R-TX) told The Daily Wire. “This way of doing things has to stop. I am willing to consider measures to support our allies, but I was elected by the people of this country, not anywhere else.”
Leif Le Mahieu contributed to this report.