US defends aid sent to Ukraine, sees no evidence of misappropriation

Washington, Feb 28 (EFE).- The US government on Tuesday said that there is “no evidence” that Ukraine is misusing or diverting the aid Washington has provided since the start of the Russian invasion just over a year ago, noting that the best example of Kyiv putting the aid to good use is the level of resistance the country has been giving to Moscow’s forces.

“There’s no evidence that the Ukrainians are diverting it to the black market,” said Under Secretary of Defense Colin Kahl before the House Armed Services Committee, adding that the administration believes the Ukraininans are using what they have been given properly.

“They are clearly using what we are providing them and what our allies and partners are providing them to maximum effect,” Kahl said.

Since the Republicans in January gained a slim majority in the House after last November’s mid-term elections they have focused their efforts on getting the government to account for the aid sent to Ukraine as well as the management of the Covid-19 pandemic and the situation along the US-Mexico border.

The hearing before the House committee on Tuesday, where the inspector general of the Defense Department, Robert Storch, also provided testimony as did Lt. Gen. Douglas Sims, comes amid a political offensive to increase oversight of US aid to Kyiv launched by Republican lawmakers against the Joe Biden administration.

Committee chairman Mike Rogers, a Republican, said that it is imperative that the US public understand where Washington’s aid is being directed, how it’s being used and what guarantees are in place to ensure that it does not wind up in the wrong hands.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24, 2022, Congress has authorized more than $113 billion in humanitarian, economic and security aid to Kyiv. About 60 percent of that figure corresponds to military support.

Democratic Congressman Adam Smith, another member of the committee, said that if the weapons, equipment and support that Washington has provided to Ukraine would have been diverted, stolen or ineffectively used, much time would have been lost and the mere fact that Ukraine has had such success in bringing the Russian offensive to a standstill, and even take back some previously conquered territory, is the best proof that the support the US is providing is being used in the best possible way.

That support, he said, does not amount to a blank check, but rather reflects, in part, Washington’s reticence about – for example – sending the F16 fighters requested by Kyiv.

Storch said that his team had already made an exhaustive evaluation of the materiel sent to Ukraine from the time it gets to a US port up through the point where it arrives in Ukraine.

But GOP lawmakers want to go further, with Rogers saying that their aim is to guarantee that the administration establishes strategic objectives and implements a policy to achieve them.

He said he has serious concerns about that, claiming that from the start Biden has been too concerned that giving Ukraine what it needs to “win” the war against Russia would escalate the conflict, a stance that has lengthened the war and increased the costs in both dollars and lives.

Rogers said that Biden should be ready to do what it takes to end the war, because indecision in this area “only empowers” Russian President Vladimir Putin and sends the wrong signal to Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party.

The current situation on the battlefield, as Gen. Sims said, is relatively static with both Ukraine and Russia having mobilized large quantities of artillery although they have achieved only rather minimal changes in the front lines.

But the end of the war would not mean the cessation of US aid, Kahl said, noting that Ukraine will continue needing the support of the US and Washington’s allies and partners for some time to ensure that Kyiv can field a strong army that will enable it to defend its territory over the long term.

EFE mgr/er/bp

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