The delicate matter of where the Ukrainian war money is going must be kept beyond reproach in the eyes of the public, lest the legacy of shady business dealings, bribery, and money laundering reach the light of day.
Following the unscheduled January visit of CIA director William Burns to Kiev, many Ukrainian officials have been removed from their posts. This sudden “anti-corruption” drive, which saw many ministers replaced, was ostensibly undertaken to combat a culture of institutionalized plunder which earned Ukraine the title of “Most corrupt nation in Europe.”
Yet the cleaning of this Augean stable has halted, leaving the most controversial suspect in office. If these sackings and resignations were undertaken to oust the guilty, why stop short of removing the most obviously compromised minister of all?
The Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov was due to be sacked three weeks ago over his implication in the misuse of funds. Yet this case has mysteriously vanished, along with the anti-corruption drive itself, despite the Ukrainian parliament having voted for his removal.
The process was initially described as a “reshuffle,” undertaken due to the constraints of the ongoing conflict, according to David Arakhamia, chief of the parliamentary bloc of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party. He did not accuse Reznikov of any wrongdoing, saying the shift was dictated by the logic of “war.”
According to an AFP report, Zelensky said “Reznikov would be appointed minister for strategic industries.”
“But confusion only deepened when Arakhamia [then] said that the replacement would not take place,” the report continued.
“The next day Zelensky urged Ukrainians to refrain from ‘spreading any rumors or other pseudo-information’ but confirmed that change was under way.”
Of course, we are used to the charge of false information being marshaled against inconvenient facts. What then is the reason this clearly guilty man is left in charge of the lucrative war machine of Ukraine?
One explanation may lie in Reznikov’s relationship management skills. When his replacement was being considered, Political analyst Anatoly Oktysiuk remarked:
Reznikov managed to build strong connections with Western officials, and questioned whether his successor would be able to take on Reznikov’s role as a ‘successful diplomat.’
The corrupt defense minister was not replaced because he has good relations with the Western politicians who are donating all the money and weapons. The democratic vote of the Rada Verkhovna was simply ignored, as so many fortunes now depend on the ability of men like Reznikov to keep the money coming in.
Reznikov (right) pictured with German defense minister Pistorius. [Image courtesy of Reznikov’s twitter feed.]The so-called “reshuffle,” later branded an anti-corruption drive, has terminated without explanation. It is perhaps better understood as a means to replace many government and regional officials with hand-picked, U.S.-backed placemen, in a process coincidentally accelerated, then ended, following the visit of the CIA chief.
Having released his hounds, Mr. Burns cedes the spotlight to the U.S. Treasury Secretary, who “arrived in Kiev as air raid sirens rang out overnight” in a replay of the performance conducted to mark the visit of President Joe Biden.
Janet Yellen, whose personal expertise in monetizing public appearances is well documented, had only warm praise to offer Zelensky during her visit on Monday, February 27:
Your steady hand and prudent economic management in the face of tremendous economic challenges has made a meaningful impact in helping stabilize Ukraine’s economy.
Yellen is reported to have made over $7 million from her public appearances, speaking to bankers such as Goldman Sachs and Barclays. This is a modest sum compared to the billions Zelensky has drummed up through his own public relations efforts, whose success has still not seen him with sufficient spending money to buy a suit.
Yellen is the former head of the Federal Reserve, who was initially billed as a technocrat and a safe pair of hands. Her power and prestige has been seriously reduced, however, by the subordination of any economic wisdom to the requirements of ideological wordplay. Her description of inflation as “transitory” and the consequent redefinition of “recession” to avoid reality demonstrates the meaning of the safety of these hands.
She is adept at handling the facts in a manner pleasing to the regime and its media image, and is willing to dissemble to do so. The following summary of her fall from grace by regional economics research fellow EJ Antoni underlines her qualifications for the sensitive matter of Ukrainian oversight:
Sadly, she is living proof that when financial aptitude is made subservient to ideology, even the talented fall from grace, and no amount of Orwellian word games can offer redemption.
Whenever the phrase “a safe pair of hands” is uttered in the mainstream press it is wise to ask around whose neck they are being placed. The hands of Yellen are on the throat of the American public, throttling them into a euphemized submission, financing a failed state rife with corruption. The delicate matter of where the money is going must be handled in this way, lest the legacy of shady business dealings, bribery, and money laundering reach the light of day.
Thanks to Yellen and to her friends in the media, that light is nowhere to be seen.
There is no explanation of where all the estimated $60 billion in military aid has gone, nor of the further $100 billion given by the U.S. alone. There is no interest in finding out where the weapons and the money is going.
Perhaps the removal of Reznikov would have sparked revelations as disturbing as those made in the CBS documentary “Arming Ukraine,” showing that only 30 percent of all weapons actually reached the Ukrainian army. The response from the Free World to this news was outrage – at it having been reported. CBS then censored its own film and begged for forgiveness for reporting the news.
In saner times, such as before the war to destroy Russia was undertaken, mainstream news outlets would warn of the danger to U.S. national security presented by arming Ukraine. According to former CIA chief John Brennan, doing so would risk “handing technology to Russian spies.”
In fact, the Ukrainians have been selling Western donated weapons to the Russians themselves. This report of July 2022 notes the sale of two 7 million euro French Caesar howitzers for a bargain price of $120,000.
Such reports have been “debunked” by the BBC, which claims to have investigated many advertisements for western weapons and found them all to be fake. It is a remarkable coincidence that what used to be true is now Russian propaganda.
Again, in less febrile times Ukraine had a notorious reputation for the black market arms dealing:
A Ukrainian parliamentary inquiry concluded that between 1992 and 1998, Ukraine lost $32 billion in military assets, in part through theft, discount arms sales and lack of oversight.
At the time, Ukraine’s annual military weapons budget was around $500 million.
The chief culprit in this vast illegal trade, which saw arms sent to Sierra Leone and Croatia, was the Ukrainian army itself:
Theft and corruption in the military facilitated the flow of illegal weapons from Ukraine.
It is clear that the culture of corruption in Ukraine has existed since its inception at the fall of the Soviet Union, and that a few weeks of reshuffling is going to do little to dislodge the national pastime of officially sanctioned plunder.
What is more, as the Pandora Papers showed, the dirty laundry of Ukrainian money has the potential to embarrass many world leaders. Chief among them would be Biden, who has happily entrusted a safe pair of hands to continue Ukrainian business as usual.