Ukrainian officials stole $490 million meant for military – MP

Criminal proceedings are underway in relation to dozens of cases of alleged embezzlement, according to politician Mikhail Bondar

FILE PHOTO. ©  AP Photo/Evgeniy Maloletka

Nearly $500 million given to Kiev for the construction of defensive fortifications to repel ’s advance has been embezzled or stolen, media reported on Sunday, citing Mikhail Bondar, a member of the Ukrainian parliament.

Ukrainian law enforcement authorities have launched around 30 criminal proceedings linked to the embezzlement of 20 billion hryvnias ($491 million), Bondar told lawmakers at a closed-door session of the parliamentary investigative commission on fortifications, according to multiple media reports. In the absence of defensive fortifications, Russian forces have made rapid advances in the country.

“Members of the commission from Servants of the People [’s ruling party], when they heard such figures, immediately tried to defend the managers of the funds,” Bondar said. However, he claimed that the “lion’s share” of the funds had been disbursed through Ukraine’s military and civil authorities, which the MP described as the “vertical of the president.”

Ukrainian lawmakers have urged the defense ministry, as well as local military authorities, to provide information on the use of budget funds for the construction of defenses.

Last month, Ukrainian media reported that military and civilian authorities in Kharkov Region had paid millions of dollars to fake companies for the supply of non-existent construction materials to build fortifications.

READ MORE: Ukraine failed to create defensive lines in Kharkov Region – BBC

According to Ukrainian anti-corruption activists, Kharkov Region authorities alone embezzled or stole 7 billion hryvnias ($176.5 million) that they had been given to build fortifications along the border. The lack of defenses has resulted in Russian troops overrunning a dozen settlements in quick succession.

For the supply of wood, the Kharkov Department of Housing and Communal Services and OVA Regional Military Administration signed contracts worth 270 million hryvnias ($6.8 million) with five companies that had been set up immediately after the contracts were announced. No bidding process took place, and at least two of these companies were owned by the same person, an anti-corruption report claimed.

In May, Russia launched a large-scale offensive on Kharkov Region, capturing multiple towns and villages. Some Ukrainian troops, including Denis Yaroslavsky, a commander active in the area, blamed their superiors for putting up inadequate defenses, claiming they may have embezzled money intended for their construction.

For months, Kharkov Region has been a source of Ukrainian cross-border attacks on Russia’s Belgorod Region. Its proximity has allowed Ukrainian troops to regularly shell the Russian city with multiple rocket launch systems.

In March, Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that Moscow could be forced to “create a cordon sanitaire” in Kiev-controlled territories to prevent attacks on Russian border regions.


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