Corruption vs. Aid: The Unspoken Battle in U.S.-Ukraine Relations

Ukraine's Corruption
Ukraine's Corruption

Leaked U.S. strategy on Ukraine sees corruption as the real threat.

It’s claimed Biden frets far more about Ukrainian corruption than his sunny speeches suggest. A leaked strategy document shows the White House exhorting Kyiv to clean house, lest aid dries up. However, that’s the worry right there, ‘aid drying up’, not so much the corruption. In this context, the calls for reform appear more as muted rhetoric than genuine efforts for change.

This confidential document exposes the yawning gap between Washington’s public cheerleading and its candid fears. With copious aid dollars at stake.

Of course, there is one of two things at play here. Loud denunciation could hand domestic opponents fresh ammunition against writing more blank checks for Ukraine. So discretion prevails, even as corruption’s corrosive risks are acknowledged offstage.

The other truth is that Biden has been under considerable pressure from his opponents about his own alleged corruption. Evidence mounts of his family profiting from influence peddling, including from Ukrinain gas giant Burisma’s payments to Hunter Biden.

Biden’s allies dismiss such allegations to avoid scrutiny of his past Ukraine dealings, however, Joe Biden could be facing a possible impeachment inquiry over his family’s business dealings no matter how loudly the protest.

The time to guard against corruption and tyranny is before they shall have gotten hold of us.

Thomas Jefferson

While in the Ukraine make no mistake, the rot permeates every strata, with bribery the lubricant greasing bureaucracy’s wheels at all levels. It’s claimed that eliminating such ingrained corruption threatens instability benefiting Russia. The consensus is short-term, kleptocracy must be tolerated, with mere token enforcement.

So Washington whispers polite encouragements, a gentle nudge here and there. However, these gestures are never forceful enough to jeopardise the extensive military support or destabilise Ukraine’s fragile governance. The financial aid will persist. This subtle charade allows Biden to signal virtue while winking at vice.

Many recognise the grim reality that this situation is bound to worsen. While we might wish for a dramatic exposé in The Washington Post for example to bring the towering edifice of wealth crashing down, it’s doubtful that any print media still possesses that kind of clout.

Perhaps some naively hope Ukraine’s oligarchs experience battlefield epiphanies, awakening their inner angels. But we know war brings out the worst in men, and the crisis deepens corruption’s roots.

As a result, corruption will continue unabated. The United States has invested too heavily in this conflict to allow a mere few billion dollars to hinder a lucrative proxy war.

And if someone, somewhere, somehow eventually exposes the truth, at least Biden can pretend to have addressed the systemic corruption.

Biden’s Dilemma: Addressing Corruption While Maintaining Support for Ukraine

Yes, the money will keep flowing, and on both sides of the Atlantic, the GoFundMe bank accounts of corrupt officials will continue to swell. Billions in public funds to finance a foreign war, all under the pretence of safeguarding democracy, is an age-old trick.

But it’s a tough sell when your own citizens are grappling with the specter of poverty, while billions are funneled elsewhere, and unscrupulous hands continue to skim the cream.

Make no mistake, the resistance against Russia deserves commendation. Yet, it’s disheartening that little effort is being put into pursuing a negotiated peace settlement, as it appears there’s little financial gain in such endeavours—well, not yet, at least. Come peace, enter BlackRock!

But for now, the profiteers are lining their pockets in this conflict. The merchants of death always thrive in wartime amid loosened purse strings.

Sadly, war enriches like the racket it is dealing in arms and influence, East and West alike.

It’s the same old story. The money vultures circle, clawing at Carrion, from the industrial arms complex to Blackrock. To them, Ukraine’s agony brings golden opportunities while ordinary people suffer.

This dirty little secret is concealed to maintain Ukraine’s heroic image. The Zelensky regime talking tough on corruption keeps the dollars flowing, no questions asked.

Leaked Strategy Exposes U.S. Fear and Impact on Ukraine’s Future

The 22-page document, first published by Politico stresses how Kyiv should implement its anti-corruption efforts immediately.

The confidential document emphasises that ‘perceptions of high-level corruption’ could also erode confidence in Ukraine’s wartime government among both the Ukrainian public and foreign leaders.

It also gives details of what has been termed the ‘Integrated Country Strategy’ which provides information about U.S. objectives in Ukraine, including efforts to privatize banks, promote the teaching of English in schools, and encourage the Ukrainian military to adopt NATO protocols.

It pledges continued security assistance but adds that “de-oligarching” the economy is central for prosperity. Officials understand that entrenched corruption, involving oligarchs buying political influence, undermines public faith in Ukraine’s government. Yet America’s priority remains arming Ukraine irrespective of any moral contradictions.

‘Even as Ukraine fights to liberate its territory, the fight for the future is also important,’ the document states.

So for now, private scoldings substitute for real accountability. Biden officials warn of corruption in secret documents while declaring steadfast public support. Leverage is limited by Ukraine’s strategic importance against Russia.

Yet the Biden administration knows full well the depths of rot in Kyiv. Privately, documents reveal fears that rampant corruption could undermine Western support.

Of course, America cares little for virtue, only that cash flows smoothly to arms dealers and military contractors. Thus the scoldings that Ukraine get its house in order. Beltway bandits worry corrupt middlemen might siphon off their slice of the $75 billion (and counting!) bonanza.

Behind Closed Door’s Deals Are Done

Having poured $75 billion into Kyiv’s coffers, Washington is now covering its back. The concerns being raised over how aid vanishes into the black hole of Ukraine’s corrupt institutions is very worrying for Biden and his war at all cost program. Intensified calls for progress on anti-corruption provide cover as Congress’s patience wears thin.

The document underscores Ukraine’s imperative to challenge deeply rooted and politically powerful interests, specifically highlighting the strong political ties between its ministers and oligarchs. These connections are deemed crucial for both Ukraine’s immediate recovery and its post-war prospects.

Furthermore, essential reforms in the energy sector, which is notorious for corruption and oligarchic control, are seen as pivotal in consolidating Ukraine’s journey toward European integration.

Any perceived reduction in American support for Kyiv could potentially lead Western European countries to reconsider their roles in the conflict.

Adding more uncertainty The possibility of the U.S. sending additional military aid to Ukraine remains uncertain due to a U.S. shutdown.

Over the weekend, Congress managed to avert a government shutdown by passing a short-term funding bill; however, it did not allocate any funding for the Ukrainian war effort, despite appeals from the White House and Senate to include such provisions.

Democrats are aiming to pass a separate aid measure in the coming days, although it remains unclear whether this package will include the $24 billion initially sought by President Joe Biden.

Some far-right Republican House members argue that funds allocated to Ukraine would be better spent addressing the immigration crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border.

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has stated that he will require specific assurances before introducing a new aid bill.

President Biden’s recent comments about reaching a deal with Speaker McCarthy to allocate more funds to Kyiv led to accusations by Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz of a “secret deal.” However, McCarthy clarified that no such deal had been made.

Then in a surprising turn of events, Kevin McCarthy was removed from his role as U.S. House Speaker on Tuesday, making it the first time in U.S. history that a speaker of the House has been removed from office.

This marks an ignominious end to McCarthy’s short tenure as House Speaker, less than a year after his election. The infighting among Republicans has effectively stalled all House of Representatives business until a new speaker is elected, which is expected to take place next Wednesday.

While the US is in turmoil over its own funding, behind the scenes ongoing discussions with Ukrainian officials are reportedly taking place, as reported by an anonymous U.S. official familiar with Ukraine policy.

Behind the scenes, there are ongoing candid discussions with Ukrainian officials, according to an anonymous U.S. official familiar with Ukraine policy, reports Politico.

So hail Kyiv’s “anti-corruption campaign” with extreme scepticism. It reeks of superficial theatrics designed to pacify patrons and the public. For entrenched venality does not fade easily, but fights tooth and claw to persist.

This crisis, like most, will ultimately serve the avaricious few at the expense of the many. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose: The more things change, the more they stay the same. 

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