Corruption in Ukraine is notorious. The most recent case involves a large arms contract. The country’s secret service claims to have uncovered it.
Ukraine is once again rocked by a corruption scandal involving its Defense Ministry: The Ukrainian secret service says it has uncovered a massive case of breach of trust in connection with an arms deal. Former and current Defense Ministry officials and leading company representatives attempted to embezzle around $40 million through a fraudulent transaction, the SBU secret service said on Saturday, several media outlets reported. According to the Defense Ministry, the accused officials are being investigated.
This scandal is very inconvenient for the government in Ukraine. The country is in the middle of a war with Russia that has now lasted almost two years. The consent of one’s own population to the country’s political leadership is important in order to maintain the people’s morale. Ukraine also wants to move closer to the West in the long term and is aiming to become a member of the European Union. The conditions for joining include, among other things, the fight against corruption.
According to the secret service’s research, the accused in the affair that has now been uncovered signed a contract with the Lviv Arsenal company in August 2022, six months after the start of the war, to purchase 100,000 mortar shells for the Ukrainian military. The ministry then transferred the specified purchase price to the company’s accounts in advance.
From there, the money was then passed on to a foreign company that was supposed to supply the ammunition. However, the Ukrainian military did not receive a single artillery shell. It is not clear from the reports where exactly the money went or whether it was repaid. The “Tagesschau” writes that “some funds were transferred abroad”.
Senior defense ministry officials in Ukraine involved in affair
According to the public prosecutor’s office, the accused include a high-ranking Defense Ministry official and his predecessor as well as representatives of the companies involved. The SBU said one of the suspects was arrested while trying to leave Ukraine.
Since the start of the Russian war of aggression in February 2022, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry has already been rocked by several corruption scandals. Then-Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov rejected allegations in August that uniforms had been purchased at inflated prices. Resnikov was ultimately fired by President Volodymyr Zelensky at the beginning of September amid allegations of corruption.
Ukraine remains low on the international corruption index
Ukraine has been considered the most corrupt country in Europe for years and is currently ranked 116th out of 180 worldwide in Transparency International’s “Corruption Perception Index”. However, it has recently improved slightly in this ranking. For comparison: Denmark is considered the least corrupt country in the world.
The fight against corruption is therefore also an important issue in war-torn Ukraine. At the beginning of August, President Zelenskiy fired all heads of the regional offices responsible for recruiting soldiers. He denounced a system that enabled conscripts to be smuggled out of the country. In December, a senior Defense Ministry official was arrested on suspicion of corruption.
Sources: AFP, “”,
Read at stern+: This war has been going on for almost two years. And there are signs of wear and tear. Conscripts are fleeing abroad, widows are complaining about commanders, and politicians are calling for negotiations with Russia. A journey through a country that no longer knows whether to believe in itself.
I have been working in the news industry for over 6 years, first as a reporter and now as an editor. I have covered politics extensively, and my work has appeared in major newspapers and online news outlets around the world. In addition to my writing, I also contribute regularly to 24 Hours World.