Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced that he had fired all 12 military recruitment chiefs after massive corruption was discovered in the recruitment system.
This is the second massive scandal in the last year for Zelenskyy’s administration, and it once again calls into question whether Ukraine is deserving of NATO membership, much less the tens of billions of American taxpayer dollars Joe Biden has sent Kyiv.
The scandal in January involved Deputy Defense Minister Vyacheslav Shapovalov, who resigned after he was accused of overseeing a scheme to purchase military foodstuffs at inflated prices. Several other officials were also caught up in the scandal and forced to resign.
The new scandal resulted in “112 criminal proceedings against officials of the ‘military registration and enlistment offices'” and involved instances of “illicit enrichment,” laundering “illegally obtained funds,” and the “illegal transportation of persons liable for military service across the border” to Ukraine’s western neighbors to avoid the draft.
“Every ‘military commissioner’ against whom there is a criminal investigation will be held accountable,” Zelenskyy said. “Officials who confused their shoulder straps with profit will definitely be brought to justice.”
The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on its official Telegram channel last week that it has uncovered “a large-scale scheme of issuing certificates of unfitness for military service,” after conducting nearly 100 searches across the country. In one instance, draft officials were selling the certificates for $10,000, the ministry said.
Zelenskyy was clearly angry at the recruitment officers, saying that officials would be dismissed without “evidence of crimes or violations.” If they want to keep their rank “and prove their dignity,” he added, “they should go to the front.”
Considering the ferocity of the fighting at “the front,” Zelenskyy may as well have sentenced them to death — with no evidence.
Gen. Valery Zaluzhny, the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces, will oversee the replacement of the recruitment officers. Zelensky said the new leaders would be “warriors who have gone through the front or who cannot be in the trenches because they have lost their health, lost their limbs, but have retained their dignity and have no cynicism.”
“This system should be run by people who know exactly what war is and why cynicism and bribery in times of war constitutes high treason,” he added.
It should be noted that this is not your plain old, ordinary, run-of-the-mill corruption. The corruption in Ukraine is positively Homeric.
Evidently, investigations revealed opulent real estate holdings in Spain and luxury vehicles belonging to Yevhen Borysov, the military commissar of the Odesa region. Borysov is suspected of embezzlement and is presently in pre-trial detention.
In Zaporizhzhia, a military officer orchestrated a scheme for personal enrichment and aided criminal elements in evading justice.
Transcarpathia saw a military commissar exploiting soldiers for personal estate construction, while an official in the Kyiv region facilitated illegal border crossings for monetary gain. Additionally, a Cherkasy region Military Commissariat employee allegedly discharged men from service in exchange for $10,000.
Corruption in Ukraine has gotten a little better in the last decade. According to Transparency International, Ukraine ranks 116 out of 180 countries as far as their corruption perception index goes. That compares to a ranking of 122 in 2021.
Also, according to the index, fully “23% of public service users paid a bribe in the previous 12 months.”
Outside of Russia, Ukraine is still the most corrupt country in Europe. It will only get worse as the cash not just for weapons, but also for economic and humanitarian aid flows into Ukraine. The hogs will really begin to feed then.
Can you imagine a kleptocracy like Ukraine in the European Union? There are many reasons to deny Ukraine membership in the EU and NATO, and massive corruption is only one of them.