During today’s House Armed Services Committee (HASC) hearing on “Oversight of U.S. Military Support to Ukraine,” U.S. Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) grilled Department of Defense Inspector General Robert Storch on whether the Biden Administration is conducting rigorous oversight and ensuring military equipment is delivered to the correct recipients in Ukraine.
Since the onset of the war a year ago, the United States has been the top contributor of military equipment and aid to Ukraine, sending over $113 Billion of taxpayer money to the Russia-Ukraine conflict.
“Mr. Storch, you’re our watchdog. Ukraine has a corruption problem, right?” Gaetz asked.
“There’s a long history of issues with corruption in Ukraine. I don’t–” said Storch.
“Infrastructure Minister arrested for stealing $400,000. Deputy head of Zelensky ‘s office can’t explain where the sportscars came from so he had to resign. Deputy Defense Minister resigned over contracting corruption, but the defense ministry put out a statement that his resignation was a worthy deed,” said Gaetz. “The wife of a former Ukrainian politician was found with $22 million in cash crossing the border into Hungary last year. Seems as though a lot of the zeal for enforcement of the anti-corruption efforts seems to align with the Republican control the House of Representatives in our country. Maybe that’s a coincidence. But let’s get to this end-use monitoring you testified to. The Arms Control Act of 1996 requires end-use monitoring for certain defense articles that are sold or leased, right?”
Storch replied, “Correct”
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The U.S. has provided more than $30 billion worth of weapons and equipment since the war in Ukraine began one year ago, including millions of artillery rounds and high-end equipment that requires years to produce and months during which to train Ukrainian troops.
Regardless of how the war ends, the U.S. will need to continue providing Kyiv with weapons and military support for years to discourage Russia from making a subsequent attempt at conquering Kyiv, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl told the House Armed Services Committee at the hearing Tuesday.
“Those things are going to matter one, two plus years from now even if the conflict dies down because Ukraine is going to need these things for deterrence,” Kahl said in response to a question from Republican Virginia Rep. Rob Wittman.
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DOD maintains a “pool of munitions to draw on for any range of scenarios” and has adjusted that pool based on the situation on the ground in Ukraine, Kahl explained.
“I don’t know how the war is going to end,” Kahl said. “I think one thing we know for sure is that Russia has lost … they will emerge from this conflict a shattered military.”
Kahl declined to go into specific details in an unclassified setting on how the U.S. prioritizes weapons acquisition and distribution to support Ukraine in the present and ensure readiness for a potential conflict in the Indo-Pacific.
However, he said the Biden administration’s strategy remains to prioritize investment in the weapons Ukraine needs in the present.
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