U.S. failed to trace $1 billion in Ukraine navy assist, watchdog says | EUROtoday

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The Defense Department has not correctly stored tabs on greater than $1 billion value of shoulder-fired missiles, night-vision goggles, one-way assault drones and different delicate gear that the United States has offered to Ukraine in its combat towards Russia, the Pentagon’s inspector normal stated in a report launched Thursday.

The watchdog’s findings, which increase questions concerning the United States’ means to make sure that its weapons are usually not stolen, have been disclosed at maybe an inopportune time for the Biden administration. As its current funding to assist Ukraine runs out, the president and different high officers have urged Congress to urgently approve an enormous package deal of extra navy assist for Kyiv, however the debate has stalled as Republicans push for dramatic modifications to U.S. border coverage.

The report made no conclusion that any assist to Ukraine had in reality been diverted from the struggle’s entrance strains, saying that was past the scope of the inspector normal’s investigation, and senior Pentagon and State Department officers stated of their response that they have been assured U.S. assist for Ukraine was not being stolen and that the accounting necessities have been unrealistic in wartime.

Still, the report, printed with some delicate info redacted, recommended that U.S. officers had struggled to satisfy necessities for nearer accountability and monitoring for a lot of the delicate navy gadgets which were offered to Ukraine. The monitoring, generally known as enhanced end-use monitoring, or EEUM, is flagged for gear and weapons that include particularly delicate know-how or are simple to smuggle or steal.

The report examined about $1.7 billion in weapons and gear that fell into that particular monitoring class and located that greater than half had not been correctly accounted. The report examined help offered since 2014, when Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, though it was only a small slice of general navy assist to Ukraine, which totals greater than $44 billion since 2022 alone. (Not each weapons system falls into the class.)

The Defense Department “did not fully comply with the EEUM program requirements for defense article accountability in a hostile environment,” stated the report, which examined the interval as much as June 2023.

Some gadgets, resembling radio gear and night-vision goggles, are sufficiently small to smuggle in baggage or automobiles and promote on the black market. Others — resembling shoulder-fired Javelin and Stinger missiles — have a historical past from earlier conflicts of being scorching gadgets on the worldwide arms bazaar.

The report stated that in lots of situations, navy officers charged with conducting monitoring had not been capable of enter the serial numbers of weaponry and gear right into a Pentagon monitoring database because it was being offered to Ukraine, and that they’d additionally at instances had problem conducting the follow-up monitoring that’s required underneath the improved requirements.

Some of the challenges relate to the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv that stretched the primary essential months of fight from February till June 2022, a interval wherein the highest U.S. navy commander in Europe ordered the suspension of monitoring exercise. At the time, no U.S. personnel have been within the nation to do the monitoring. Later, Ukrainian officers offered written receipts for gear and arms transfers. Since November 2022, a pilot program has existed for Ukrainian personnel to make use of handheld bar-code scanners to conduct preliminary inventories at a logistics hub outdoors Ukraine and annual inventories as soon as the gear is in Ukraine.

The report additionally famous that, even now, gear focused for additional monitoring is usually shipped to the entrance strains “within days” to be used in lively fight. It referenced an unidentified official from the Pentagon’s Kyiv-based workplace of protection cooperation saying that “there is no safe method” to conduct the inventories on the entrance strains, so the one time the articles could be tracked is when they’re at logistics and storage depots.

Until December 2022, the report stated, the Defense Department “did not have a policy in place for conducting EEUM in a hostile environment.” The Pentagon’s Office of Defense Cooperation-Ukraine additionally “did not enforce requirements that the [Ukrainian Armed Forces] provide loss reports in a timely manner and expenditure reports by serial number,” the report stated.

Senior Pentagon and State Department officers disputed the report, saying in official responses that though real-time monitoring of the navy assist was inconceivable in wartime, they’d devised different strategies for Ukrainians to account for the gear and weaponry and that they have been glad that they have been sufficiently monitoring the help.

“To date there is no evidence of unauthorized or illicit transfer … outside of Ukraine,” performing undersecretary of protection for coverage Alexandra N. Baker wrote in a response included within the report.

“A lack of a full accounting does not preclude the U.S. government from reasonably concluding Ukraine is in compliance with U.S. government requirements with respect to use, transfer, and security of the items it has received.”

The report seems more likely to additional imperil the way forward for Ukraine assist, of which assist amongst congressional Republicans has taken a nosedive in latest months. The American public’s curiosity within the struggle has waned dramatically since Russia’s 2022 invasion, and conservative lawmakers have sought to tie their forthcoming approval for any additional help to a dramatic shift in U.S. immigration coverage.

Republicans and Democrats have spent weeks negotiating the phrases of an immigration coverage deal that many consider would facilitate the passage of a bigger supplemental spending package deal, together with billions of {dollars} in navy assist to Ukraine and Israel. Republicans, notably on the far-right flank of the House, have lengthy alleged mismanagement and poor oversight over Ukraine help.

Many Senate Republicans and centrist Republican House members have stated that they’ve been glad with the Biden administration’s oversight to this point. But the inspector normal’s report may change that.

Sen. Deb Fischer (Neb.), the rating Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee, stated that she hadn’t but seen the inspector normal’s report, however that she would discover the division’s failure to correctly monitor such a big amount of weaponry “concerning.”

“I’m sure that people are going to have questions about it. And if there’s no transparency on it, then yeah, that’s going to be an issue,” Fischer stated.

Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), a Trump ally and longtime critic of Ukraine assist, known as the report “pretty harrowing.”

Hawley, who has accused the administration of exercising poor oversight in its Ukraine help, stated the inspector normal report “shows what we’ve been saying, which is we’re not adequately keeping track of where the funds are going, of how the munitions are actually being deployed, and what exactly the money’s being used for. And I think it makes the case for greater oversight.”

Hawley stated he has requested the unredacted report from the inspector normal’s workplace, in addition to the categorized annex. But he additionally stated he was uncertain that the report’s findings would successfully dissuade a lot of his Republican colleagues from backing Ukraine assist, if the events attain a deal on border coverage.

“I think it should, but it won’t … have a big impact,” he added. “What’s gonna happen is we’re gonna find ourselves in an Afghanistan, or worse, a Vietnam situation” — with rampant corruption and diverted U.S. funds, he stated — “where after the fact we’re gonna say, ‘Oh, how could this ever have happened?’ ”