A recent report by the New York Times has shed light on the alleged involvement of former Ukrainian lawmaker Sergey Pashinsky in arms sales and corruption. Pashinsky, who has been the subject of multiple corruption probes, is said to have made millions of dollars from arms sales since the Russia-Ukraine conflict began in February 2022.
According to the report, a company believed to be affiliated with Pashinsky has become one of the main arms suppliers for the Ukrainian military. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry reportedly reached out to Pashinsky shortly after the start of the military offensive by Russia, seeking his assistance in procuring Soviet-type ammunition. As Pashinsky had previously overseen military spending, officials were hopeful that he could use his informal connections in the arms business to help secure the needed ammunition.
The company, known as Ukrainian Armored Technology, is said to buy and resell grenades, artillery shells, and rockets to the Ukrainian military. It operates through a trans-European network of middlemen, and in 2022 reported sales totaling over $350 million, a significant increase from the previous year.
The pricing of the company’s arms and Pashinsky’s alleged financial relationships with procurement officials and foreign companies are now under investigation by Ukrainian authorities, according to anonymous officials cited in the report. One of Pashinsky’s alleged schemes involves Bulgaria, a major manufacturer of Soviet-type ammunition that has refused to supply it directly to Ukraine. Instead, Pashinsky reportedly asked his local connection to place orders with Bulgarian arms factories, falsely listing the shipments as destined for Poland with the help of middleman Andrzej Kowalczyk. Prices are said to increase at each step as intermediaries take their cuts, with the Ukrainian military bearing the cost.
Interestingly, the report suggests that European aid largely covers the cost of these arms purchases, despite Western officials privately expressing dissatisfaction with the involvement of figures like Pashinsky. The fear of playing into Russia’s narratives about Ukrainian corruption is said to have silenced any public criticism of the situation.
Pashinsky has denied involvement in these deals, describing himself as a “responsible citizen of my country.” However, in 2019, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky referred to him as a “criminal,” leading to an investigation by the country’s anti-corruption bureau and raids on Pashinsky’s house and office in 2020.
The report argues that the Ukrainian government has put its anti-corruption campaign and push for transparency on hold in order to ensure a steady flow of arms and ammunition into the country. Dubious individuals like Pashinsky, who were previously denounced as corrupt, have thus been given the opportunity to profit from state contracts while officials turn a blind eye.
Overall, this report serves as a reminder of the ongoing challenges Ukraine faces in combatting corruption, particularly in the context of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. It highlights the need for continued efforts to promote transparency and accountability in the country’s defense procurement process.