Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Resigns Over Corruption Allegations

Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Resigns Over Corruption Allegations
Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP

Ukraine is currently suffering through another wide-ranging corruption scandal, and it’s claimed the scalp of Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov.

According to Politico, Shapovalov was allegedly involved in a scheme to inflate the costs of food supplies purchased for the Army. The indication is that the company that was benefiting was likely paying kickbacks for the contract.

Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov resigned on Tuesday in the wake of a major procurement scandal that has rocked the country’s political establishment.

Shapovalov, who oversaw logistical support for the army, tendered his resignation following a scandal involving the purchase of military rations at inflated prices.

In his resignation letter, the minister asked to be dismissed in order “not to pose a threat to the stable supply of the Armed Forces of Ukraine as a result of a campaign of accusations related to the purchase of food services.”

An exposé from the Ukrainian news website ZN.UA revealed last week that the defense ministry purchased overpriced food supplies for its troops. For instance, the ministry bought eggs at 17 hryvnias per piece, while the average price of an egg in Kyiv is around 7 hryvnias. According to ZN.UA, a contract for food procurement for soldiers in 2023 amounted to 13.16 billion hryvnias (€328 million).

Per the report, Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov initially dismissed the scandal, stating it was caused by an error in tabulating the costs. He then launched an investigation into who leaked the details of the contract instead of who processed the contract. That’s a pretty good indication that rot within Ukraine’s military structure goes a lot deeper than just Shapovalov given the lack of seriousness the issue was given.

By that point, though, a broad corruption probe was apparently already underway, and Shapovalov resigned. He’s just the latest example in a line of resignations during what has been a tumultuous winter for Ukraine’s government.

This latest report serves as a good reminder and a cautionary tale that Ukraine is still Ukraine. The European nation is rightly defending itself from Russia’s aggression, but the start of the current war there did not suddenly end the pattern of corruption in the country that existed prior. Oligarchs greasing each other’s palms has long been the name of the game in Eastern Europe, and the NATO nations funding Ukraine’s war effort need to be very cautious in what they allocate and how it is tracked.

That will become even more necessary once the war ends and Ukraine starts asking for reconstruction funds. The number of boondoggles that could suck up American money in that scenario are too many to fathom. It’s one of the reasons I support arming Ukraine to fight Russia but am not supportive of funding any kind of post-war effort. There’s far too much room for the misappropriation of funds, and Ukraine has come nowhere close to proving itself trustworthy in that arena.

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