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Fears the weapons end up in criminal hands – VG

A Ukrainian soldier checks his weapon near Kharkiv in June this year.

Corruption and arms aid that could end up in criminal hands is an ever-increasing concern for Western countries that send aid to Ukraine.


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President Zelensky just fired the attorney general and the head of intelligence, along with a number of other top bureaucrats. It has brought new attention to what has ridden Ukraine like a mare since the country seceded from the Soviet Union:


Both the EU and the US have expressed disappointment that it is taking so long to appoint a head of the special investigation office for corruption cases. Paradoxically, the war has made it even more important to fight corruption.

Because where does the money and weapons Western countries send to Ukraine actually go? There are no good answers to that.

A toy car in the ruins of a house bombed in Chernihiv.

As her husband fired key figures in his administration, Ukraine’s first lady Olena Zelenska addressed the US Congress.

She showed photos and told the stories of Ukrainian children who have been killed or maimed by airstrikes, or who were shot dead as their families tried to flee with them.

– We ask that the attacks must end, as parents we ask for it. Is that too much to ask, Zelenska asked from the podium.

No, it isn’t.

Olena Zelenska spoke before Congress, and recently met with the US presidential couple for talks.

The desperate situation does not make it easy to set conditions.

But if we don’t do that, it could become dangerous both for Ukraine and the donor countries. The danger of weapons ending up in the hands of the enemy or criminal groups is obviously present. They can also end up with groups that can eventually turn their weapons against the donor countries’ own citizens, for example in the form of terrorist attacks.

There is little doubt that the United States and other Western countries will continue to support Ukraine’s fight for freedom.

But a fatigue has already set in. Americans are increasingly concerned about high fuel prices and inflation at home. Europe is on fire, and we are worried about an energy crisis the likes of which we have never experienced.

But despite strong concerns about corruption and Russian infiltration of the Ukrainian civil service, the US has so far poured in both money and weapons.

Ukrainian-born Victoria Spartz, a Republican congresswoman in the United States, has visited Ukraine several times since the invasion began, and has previously criticized President Biden for not having given the country enough aid.

In recent weeks, however, she has accused Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj of political games, and accuses one of his close associates of having sabotaged Ukraine’s defense against Russia.

She has also repeatedly called for the appointment of a separate prosecutor for corruption cases. Ukrainian spokesmen have hit back, calling the criticism groundless.

The US will continue to send money and weapons to Ukraine, despite corruption charges and a lack of knowledge about where the weapons end up.

Ukraine’s corruption problems, like Russia’s, took off in earnest when the Soviet Union dissolved. State companies were privatized in a state of lawlessness and chaos. The much talked about oligarchy was born.

To protect themselves and their wealth, the oligarchs in the 2000s bought up media companies that they could use to shield themselves from the critical spotlight, and which played an increasingly active role in elections and politics.

The money from the Ukrainian economy was laundered through Western financial systems, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

So how can we know that the billions of kroner that are now being sent in various aid packages to Ukraine will get where they are supposed to?

We can’t do that. Fortunately, a good number get where they need to go. But by no means everything can be accounted for.

Even more frightening are weapons on the way.

To date, Western countries have provided military support of more than 10 billion dollars to Ukraine.

– The weapons are sent to Poland, where they are sent on to the Ukrainian border. The load is then split up and transported on everything from large truck trains to small private cars. From that moment on, we have no idea where they end up, what they are used for or even whether they stay in the country, says a source to the Financial Times.

Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochová believes it is difficult to avoid the sale and smuggling of weapons from Ukraine.

EU foreign ministers discussed the challenges at a meeting last week. After the meeting, Czech Defense Minister Jana Cernochová told journalists present that it is difficult to avoid the sale and smuggling of weapons.

– We couldn’t do it in the former Yugoslavia, and we probably won’t be able to do it in Ukraine.

Already in April, Europol said that investigations showed that arms sales from Ukraine to criminal groups in EU countries were ongoing, and that there was a potential threat to EU security.

The Russian war against Ukraine has led to an enormous increase in the number of weapons and ammunition in the country.

Shooting training of civilians in Ukraine in February this year.

To begin with, the Ukrainians had registers where they noted civilians who received weapons, but as the war continued, they stopped doing so, and now there is no record, Europol wrote in a report sent to the EU countries.

They are calling for a register of weapons and military material sent from the EU to Ukraine, so that the various police authorities can track them.

Ukraine refutes claims that the country is becoming a center for arms smuggling.

– It has no root in reality, and those who claim it may be part of the Russian information war that is trying to prevent our international partners from sending us necessary weapons, says Yuri Sak, adviser to Ukraine’s defense minister, according to the Financial Times.

The war itself has caused many corruption measures to suffer, because there are no people or capacity for it right now.

Although much has been attempted to be corrected in recent years, most experts agree that the country still has a very long way to go.

In addition to the fact that Russia has invaded them and is killing both civilians and soldiers, Russia probably also does not want Ukraine to succeed in its fight against corruption.

If Ukraine, through democratic means and institutions, cleans up the widespread corruption and achieves a more well-functioning democracy, Putin is perhaps afraid that it may inspire Russians to demand democratic reforms.

It is yet another reason to demand, and contribute to, that Ukraine intensifies its work against corruption, even if there is a war.

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