Criminals, volunteer fighters and arms smugglers from Ukraine tried to steal some of the weapons and equipment provided by the West last year, but they were eventually recovered, CNN, News.ro reported, according to the report of the Inspector General of the Department of Defense.
The plots to steal the weapons and equipment were foiled by Ukrainian intelligence, and the ships were eventually recovered, according to a report obtained by CNN.
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, the Department of Defense’s ability to track and monitor all U.S. equipment entering Ukraine, as required by the Arms Export Control Act, has faced “challenges” due to the limited U.S. presence in the country, the inspector general’s report noted.
According to the report, which examined the period from February to September 2022, the Office for Defense Cooperation in Kyiv (ODC-Kyiv) was “unable to conduct the required (end-use) monitoring of military equipment provided by the United States to Ukraine in fiscal year 2022.”
“The inability of DoD personnel to visit areas where equipment supplied to Ukraine is used or stored significantly impedes ODC-Kyiv’s ability to execute,” the document said.
The US government is aware of the dangers of illegal diversion
The report is dated October 6, 2022. In late October, the United States resumed site inspections of Ukrainian weapons depots as a way to better monitor where the equipment was going. The department also provided the Ukrainians with surveillance systems, including scanners and software, Colin Gall, the Pentagon’s former undersecretary for defense policy, told a congressional hearing in February.
But the report highlights how difficult it was to track the billions of dollars worth of weapons and equipment the US was sending to Ukraine in the early days of the war.
“The U.S. government is well aware of the risk of potential abuses and is working closely with the government of Ukraine to take proactive steps to mitigate this risk. We know that we are sending weapons to Ukraine to defend itself in the midst of a serious conflict, and that these weapons are at risk of being seized if that territory falls into someone else’s hands — which happens in any war,” a State Department spokesperson commented.
Republicans see the Biden administration as lacking oversight over billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine. Speaker of the House of Representatives Kevin McCarthy said earlier this year that he supported Ukraine but “did not support a blank check”. Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, shared a similar sentiment.
In April 2022, CNN reported that the Biden administration was willing to risk losing weapons supplied to Ukraine because it believed they were essential to Ukraine’s defeat of Russian forces.
US Europe Command tried to mitigate the problem last year by requesting hand receipts from the Ukrainians, who provided them “in good faith,” the report said, citing EUCOM staff.
The Office for Defense Cooperation in Kyiv asked the Ukrainian government for reports on the cost, loss and damage of US-supplied equipment, and the report said Ukrainian authorities “made efforts to prevent the illegal proliferation of US-supplied defense materials.”
Which weapons were stolen and by whom?
However, criminal organizations have managed to steal some of the weapons and equipment provided by the US and its allies, the report said.
In late June 2022, an organized crime group overseen by an unnamed Russian official joined the volunteer brigade using false documents and stole weapons, including a grenade and machine gun, as well as more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition, the report said. Ukraine’s intelligence agency foiled the plot, the report said.
In the same month, Ukrainian intelligence services foiled a plot by arms dealers trying to sell weapons and ammunition stolen from the frontlines of southern Ukraine, as well as another plot by Ukrainian criminals posing as aid workers to steal $17,000 worth of bulletproof vests, the report said.
In August 2022, Ukrainian intelligence services discovered a group of volunteer battalion members who stole 60 guns and nearly 1,000 rounds of ammunition and transported them to a warehouse, “probably to be sold on the black market.”
The report did not specify whether the weapons and equipment were from the United States, but provided facts in a redacted section indicating Ukraine’s pursuit of U.S.-supplied weapons.
The Pentagon’s inspector general wrote that some large objects, such as missiles and helicopters, could be easily tracked by intelligence mechanisms. However, tracking smaller objects such as night vision devices was more difficult.
Ultimately, the report made no recommendations, noting that the Defense Department “has made efforts to mitigate the inability to conduct in-person surveillance.”
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