DoD IG Report Shows Big Problem Tracking Weapons Given to Ukraine, Criminal Gangs Grabbing Some

Doug Mills/Pool via AP

In May 2022, I raised some questions about not only how we were depleting our own stockpiles but about the accountability for all the weapons, money, and material we were sending to Ukraine.

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Senators questioned Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin on this point. His response was incredible, as I reported at the time.

Several senators called for the Pentagon to be more transparent and watchful as it steps up its weapons deliveries to ensure that equipment is moving to Ukraine’s front lines. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said she repeatedly heard from those involved in logistics that diversion and hoarding issues have kept weapons, ammunition and armor from reaching some front-line units.

“Are we making sure that none of these weapons are falling into the wrong hands? Is there any way to even do that?” Tester asked.

You’re going to love Austin’s response to that question. He said, “It was difficult to track weapons once they were moved into Ukraine.”

“We have to depend on the Ukrainians at this point to do the right thing and make sure that they are prudent and careful about how they issue these weapons out and account for these weapons,” he said.

Oh.

You’ve just given a ton of weapons to a country that has a history of corruption, and that’s your response?

So now, more than a year later, have they done anything to resolve those issues that were being raised to ensure accountability?

According to a report from the U.S. Defense Department Office of the Inspector General that was obtained through a FOIA request, not only are there questions of accountability, but weapons are also ending up in the hands of criminal gangs. This report was from October 2022. It looked at accountability from February to September 2022.

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The report showed that they still had the issue that Austin identified:

“During the evaluation we found that the DoD was unable to provide end-use ‘monitoring (EUM) in accordance with DoD policy because of limited US. presence in Ukraine.” [….]

(1) ODC-Kyiv was unable to conduct required EUM of military equipment that the United States provided to Ukraine in FY 2022. Therefore, we are issuing this report identifying the challenges faced by DoD personnel responsible for conducting EUM when there are limited or no U.S. personnel present in the area where the equipment is being used. The current guidance and effectiveness of the Do’s execution of routine EUM and EEUM rely on in-person access to equipment by U.S. personnel to conduct compliance assessment visits and accountability assessments. The inability of DoD personnel to visit areas where equipment provided to Ukraine was being used or stored significantly hampered ODC-Kyivs ability to execute EUM…

Then there’s this. EEUM means “Enhanced End Use Monitoring.”

(U) The DoD OIG found deficiencies in the DoD’s transfer of military equipment to the Government of Ukraine requiring EEUM, including Javelin missiles, Javelin Command Launch Units, and night vision devices; and in Ukraine’s security and accountability of US.-provided military equipment requiring EEUM.

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Can I say “Oh” again? Yikes.

While they’re able to track some of the bigger/more concerning items, the smaller items are more of a problem.

In late June 2022 the SBU dismantled an organized crime group that was controlled by an unspecified Russian official. The group members joined a volunteer battalion using forged identity documents and procured weapons,

(U)including a grenade launcher and a machine gun, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The perceived intent of the group was to conduct destabilizing activities.

(U) In mid-August 2022, the SBU disrupted a group of volunteer battalion ‘members who took more than 60 rifles and almost 1,000 rounds of ammunition and stored them illegally in a warehouse, presumably for sale on the black market.

(U) In late June 2022, the SBU disrupted a group of Ukrainian criminals posing as members of a humanitarian aid organization who distributed bulletproof vests. The group illicitly imported the vests and sold them rather than distribute them to Ukrainian forces. A member of the group was found with a cache of vests worth $17,000.

(U) In late June 2022, the SBU disrupted a group of arms traffickers who were selling weapons and ammunition stolen from the front lines in southern Ukraine.

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This is very problematic.

Republicans need to be taking up this question because there are red flags all over this, and this is likely only listing the things that they did know about. Notice that also includes Russians who may be getting weapons. If they don’t have real continuing EUM, it’s a little like how many people can sneak across the border — you can’t track all the people who get away.

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