The U.S. government wants a series of very concrete anti-corruption measures in Ukraine in exchange for its help to the country invaded by Russia. According to the newspaper Pravda of Ukraine, which has leaked the letter written by the deputy adviser of National Security of the United States, Mike Pyle, to the Donor Coordination Platform, the White House demands specific actions in the courts, the Ministry of Defense and the regulatory bodies of state enterprises, among others. These measures must be taken in various time frames, from three months (the most urgent) to a year and a half for the most complicated.
The draft, still subject to change and revision, according to the Ukrainian Pravda, comes to light after a series of corruption scandals in Ukraine. Also when in the United States resistance increases among Republican supporters and legislators of the hardest wing of that party to continue supporting Ukraine indefinitely, when the war has already exceeded a year and a half and has no signs of ending in the short term. These legislators demand, among other things, greater transparency and accountability on the use of these funds. The United States has delivered more than 75,000 million dollars (70,000 million euros) to Kiev in military, economic and humanitarian aid.
The document, headed "Conditional Reforms in U.S. Assistance," is also released when the U.S. Congress must approve by Sept. 30 a budget measure that includes a $24 billion (€000.22 billion) item for Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky met Thursday with Republican and Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill in Washington, precisely to ask congressmen to continue supporting assistance to his country. Otherwise, the Ukrainian leader warns, the Western system of democratic values is in danger.
In that visit, Zelenski also met with US President Joe Biden, who announced a new item of military assistance for 325 million dollars (305 million euros).
The Democrats, led by the White House, and the moderate wing of the Republican Party, insist on the need to continue support for Ukraine "with everything that is necessary and as long as it takes." But the U.S. government also points out that it wants to "make sure that there is accountability" about how that aid is used, State Department spokesman Matthew Miller said Tuesday at his daily press briefing.
Proponents of such assistance insist that abandonment would leave the field open for Russia at Europe's doorstep and no country would be safe. They also point out that China is watching with interest what happens in Ukraine and could interpret the withdrawal of US support for Kiev as a foretaste of what could happen with respect to Taiwan in the event of a conflict.
Patrimony of public offices
The conditions imposed by the White House that have been announced are more precise than those made public by the European Commission to open negotiations for Ukraine's accession to the EU. The US government demands, for example, that in three months the law be reformed so that public officials have to declare their assets. This requirement is in line with the veto signed on September 12 by Zelenskiy on a law that postponed the obligation for deputies to declare their assets.
The Ukrainian leader has pressed the accelerator to carry out improvements in the judicial system and in the fight against corruption. The aim is to arrive with homework done at the European Council summit next December to officially start talks to incorporate Ukraine into the EU.
Despite the rush, there is still a long way to go. According to the organization Transparency International, Ukraine is the 116th country (out of a list of 180) in terms of perception of corruption. Of the seven commitments that Kiev must fulfill to start EU accession negotiations, it would fulfill two for the time being. Two of those that it is not complying with – despite the improvements acknowledged by Brussels – are reforms to reduce corruption rates and also to guarantee the independence of the judiciary.
Corruption scandals are frequent in Ukraine, as are dismissals imposed by Zelenskiy linked to alleged malpractice. There are cases that the US demands document points out directly: the White House demands that the Ministry of Defense adapt within a year to the standards of transparency and accountability that apply in NATO. Oleksii Reznikov was dismissed this September as defense minister after two episodes of alleged corruption in the procurement of food and clothing for troops at prices well above market prices.
Another body in which Zelenskiy has dismissed numerous senior officials, due to repeated accusations of corruption, is the State Border Service. The Washington document affects the necessary reforms in this department under the Ministry of the Interior. The Ukrainian president has even proposed a legal reform that equates the crimes of corruption in wartime with those of treason.
The Ukrainian state is maintained by Western financial and military support. Not only that: the country's economy grows again this quarter, after collapsing 30% of GDP in 2022, in the first year of the war. Europe and the United States are the main donors of aid to Ukraine. The EU has pledged about €140 billion in assistance, including military assistance, and the U.S. €000 billion, according to estimates by the Kiev Institute for the Global Economy. Official visits by delegations from the European Commission, the governments of EU member countries and the United States are regular to monitor the destination of their aid. But not only these official visits take place, there are also representatives of these governments monitoring from the field, apart from the Ukrainian authorities, the use of economic and military assistance, as EL PAÍS has been able to verify.
Washington demands in its letter to the Ukrainian Executive greater controls in the distribution of these funds, especially those of the future reconstruction of the country. The U.S., like the EU, also demands more pluralistic oversight bodies for state-owned enterprises and tougher rules to end the monopolies of the oligarchs, the great fortunes born after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
The donor coordination platform was launched in January this year to support Ukrainian reconstruction. It involves representatives from Kiev, the US, the EU, the G7 countries and international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the European Investment Bank.
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