A recent report by the Pentagon’s inspector general has revealed that some of the military equipment provided to Ukraine by the US and its allies during the conflict with Russia has ended up in the hands of criminal groups, volunteer fighters, and traffickers. The report, titled “Evaluation of the DoD’s Accountability of Equipment Provided to Ukraine,” was obtained by CNN and Military.com through a Freedom of Information Act request.
The report, which covered the period from February to September 2022, highlighted the challenges faced by the Department of Defense in tracking and monitoring the weapons and equipment provided to Ukraine. The US office of Defense Cooperation in Kiev was unable to conduct the required end-use monitoring of the military equipment provided in FY 2022, primarily due to the inability of DoD personnel to visit the areas where the equipment was being used or stored.
According to the report, there were several instances of Western-supplied hardware falling into the wrong hands. For example, an organized crime group, allegedly overseen by a Russian official, infiltrated a volunteer battalion and stole various weapons, including a grenade launcher and a machine gun, as well as over 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The group’s perceived intent was to carry out destabilizing activities.
In another incident, a group of Ukrainian criminals posing as aid workers stole bulletproof vests worth $17,000 that had been provided to Kiev by its allies. Additionally, in August 2022, members of a volunteer battalion stole 60 rifles and nearly 1,000 rounds of ammunition, presumably to sell on the black market. However, the Ukrainian security services managed to uncover these plots and retrieve the stolen equipment.
The report further highlighted Moscow’s concerns about the supply of Western weapons to Ukraine and the potential for those arms to be smuggled out of the country and sold on the black market. Russia’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova has previously warned that this could lead to an unprecedented scale of terrorist and criminal activity worldwide.
The findings of this report raise important questions about the effectiveness of the accountability measures in place for weapons provided to Ukraine. It is crucial for the US and its allies to improve the tracking and monitoring of the equipment they supply to ensure that it does not end up in the wrong hands. This includes strengthening the end-use monitoring process and ensuring that DoD personnel have access to the areas where the equipment is being used or stored.
In conclusion, the Pentagon inspector general’s report highlights the challenges faced in tracking and monitoring the military equipment supplied to Ukraine during the conflict with Russia. The incidents of Western-supplied hardware falling into the hands of criminal groups and traffickers underscore the importance of improving accountability measures to prevent future misuse. It is essential for the US and its allies to address these issues and enhance the effectiveness of their support to Ukraine.