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More than 400 personnel take part in Ukraine aid oversight, US watchdog says

<i>The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images</i><br/>President Joe Biden
The Washington Post/The Washington Post/Getty Images
President Joe Biden

By Oren Liebermann, CNN

(CNN) — More than 400 personnel take part in the oversight of Ukraine aid, according to a new report from a US government watchdog, underscoring the massive effort to manage billions of dollars in US assistance.

Congress has appropriated $113.4 billion in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has provided security, economic and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine and other countries affected by the war. The money also supports an enlarged US military presence in Europe and the training of the Ukrainian military.

To oversee the interagency effort, the inspectors general from the Defense Department, State Department, and United States Agency for International Development work with 20 other federal agencies and the Ukrainian government. In total, the report said there are more than 400 personnel working across the US, Germany, Ukraine and Europe to audit and evaluate US assistance to Ukraine.

The report comes as some Republicans, including House Speaker Mike Johnson, have demanded more oversight over Ukraine aid before they agree to any additional funding. Earlier this week, the Senate passed a $95.3 billion foreign aid package that includes assistance to Ukraine, but the bill faces an uncertain future in the US House of Representatives, where Johnson has signaled he will not bring it for a vote.

Johnson met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in December, saying afterwards that the Biden administration wanted “billions of additional dollars with no appropriate oversight.”

The lengths to which the US has gone to provide that oversight is detailed in the first quarterly report from the Special Inspector General for Operation Atlantic Resolve (OAR), the name for the mission to bolster NATO and support Ukraine. The mission was first launched in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea, but it grew significantly following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

The Defense Department Office of the Inspector General alone has more than 200 staff members working on Ukraine oversight. Of those, 28 are in Europe, including two in Kyiv, with plans for more, the report said. The State Department watchdog has more than 100 staff members working on Ukraine oversight, three of whom are in Kyiv. The USAID watchdog has another 80 personnel working on Ukraine.

In addition, law enforcement personnel from the different agencies work with Ukrainian authorities to investigate misconduct that could threaten US aid to Ukraine. The watchdogs have also set up the Ukraine Fraud and Corruption Investigative Working Group to root out and prevent corrupt dealings of US aid to Ukraine. Since the beginning of the war, these agencies have opened 57 investigations and closed 14 of them, resulting in two convictions, according to the report.

In one case, investigators found that since November 2021 – three months before Russia invaded Ukraine – seven US soldiers and civilian contractors stole seven tons of fuel worth $2 million from a base in Romania used to assist Ukraine.

As the war nears the two year mark, the report also details Russia’s growing reliance on foreign aid to fuel its war effort. Since the US warned a deal was possible last summer, North Korea has likely provided Russia with “millions of artillery rounds and other weapons” and may be preparing to provide other weapons as well.

Iran has provided more than 1,000 one-way attack drones and multi-use drones to Russia, as well as other military equipment to use against Ukraine. Iran has also likely considered providing Russia with ballistic missiles, which CNN reported last month was a possibility.

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Article Topic Follows: CNN - US Politics

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