In a potential signal of shifting attitudes on how the war in Ukraine is covered in the legacy media, the New York Times is starting to slowly acknowledge the endemic corruption that has been a defining feature of the former Soviet state as officials have admitted that money for military contracts has “vanished”.
Following the dismissal of Ukrainian Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov amid a slew of corruption scandals surrounding the war effort against Russia, the New York Times acknowledged that the “enduring challenge of corruption in Ukraine” has “emerged as a rare area of criticism of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s leadership.”
Although Reznikov has yet to be tied with any of the corruption scandals personally, the Times went on to admit that the resignation has “elevated the issue to the highest level of Ukrainian politics”. Unnamed Ukrainian officials even told the paper that some funds intended for military contracts “failed to produce weaponry or ammunition and that some money has vanished,” while claiming that the issue was merely confined to the early days of the war.
The neo-liberal outlet has previously been keen to highlight claims from the Biden administration on how the Zelensky government has been “committed to fighting corruption,” citing as evidence statements from officials such as veteran Washington insider and Acting Deputy Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who played a pivotal role in the Euromaidan revolution in Ukraine that saw the overthrow of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014.
Despite nine senior government officials being sacked over allegations of corruption, including purchasing military food supplies at vastly inflated prices and taking luxury vacations, the paper went on to write in January that “corruption has otherwise not been a significant factor in the war, despite Russian propaganda claims to the contrary that are aimed at undermining his [Zelensky’s] government.”
Ukraine Corruption Scandal Deepens as Zelensky Sacks String of Officialshttps://t.co/NqqWf8PLa0— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) January 24, 2023
The proclamation from the NY Times aged rather poorly. Just days later, as Breitbart News reported at the time, Transparency International gave Ukraine a score of 33 out of 100 in its annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), ranking 116th in the world and the second-lowest in all of Europe, only behind Russia.
Expressing concerns over the fate of the $113 billion in American taxpayer dollars sent to Ukraine following Russia’s invasion, the Republican-led House Oversight Committee went on to note in February that “Ukrainian government officials allegedly engaged in bribery, used government vehicles for personal use, and purchased inflated food supplies for Ukrainian forces.”
Since then, corruption scandals surrounding the war effort have continued to emerge. Last month, for example, every single head of regional recruitment offices throughout Ukraine was fired amid allegations of widespread bribery of officials from those seeking to avoid conscription into the war. Two weeks later, First Deputy Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food Taras Vysotskyi and another unnamed economic minister were sacked on suspicion of misappropriating $1.68 million in government funds.
Following the ousting of Defence Minister Reznikov on Monday, the New York Times acknowledged that although there have yet to be specific allegations of corruption involving American funding, the nature of graft in the country has shifted from its traditional avenues, of exploiting state-run enterprises to a focus on war profiteering as billions pour into the country from abroad.
Speaking to the paper, the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Ukraine, Daria Kaleniuk said: “The question here is, ‘Where is the money?’”
“Corruption can kill,” she added. “Depending on how effective we are in guarding the public funds, the soldier will either have a weapon or not have a weapon.”
Two high-ranking Ukraine government officials have been embroiled in a corruption scandal and found to have misappropriated $1.6 million in funds. https://t.co/X5Zkbq9SWO— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) August 27, 2023
The Times went on to claim that there is a shifting mood within Ukraine on the issue, which the paper said was “mostly taboo throughout the first year of the war, as Ukrainians rallied around their government in a fight for national survival.”
The corruption scandals “are nonetheless piercing the sense of unquestioning support for the government that Ukrainians had exhibited throughout the first year of Russia’s full-scale invasion,” the NY Times continued.
The critical reporting of the issues of corruption in Ukraine from the hitherto vociferously supportive paper may signal a shift in attitude overall towards the war and perhaps the Biden administration’s strategy of dumping weapons, hardware, and money into the conflict.
The White House is currently trying to convince Congress to green-light an additional $24 billion in aid to the country, however, elections loom and more voters are now questioning the extent of the state’s largess while so many problems are unresolved at home.
Zelensky Replaces Defence Minister Amid Struggling Counteroffensive and Growing Corruption Scandalshttps://t.co/pzfa65v0Rm— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) September 4, 2023