Where Are All Those Billions of Dollars Sent to Ukraine Really Going?

Following the unscheduled January visit of CIA director William Burns to Kiev, many Ukrainian officials have been removed from their posts. This sudden “anti-corruption” drive, which saw many ministers replaced, was ostensibly undertaken to combat a culture of institutionalized plunder which earned Ukraine the title of “Most corrupt nation in Europe.”

Yet the cleaning of this Augean stable has halted, leaving the most controversial suspect in office. If these sackings and resignations were undertaken to oust the guilty, why stop short of removing the most obviously compromised minister of all?

The Ukrainian defense minister Oleksii Reznikov was due to be sacked three weeks ago over his implication in the misuse of funds. Yet this case has mysteriously vanished, along with the anti-corruption drive itself, despite the Ukrainian parliament having voted for his removal.

The process was initially described as a “reshuffle,” undertaken due to the constraints of the ongoing conflict, according to David Arakhamia, chief of the parliamentary bloc of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s party. He did not accuse Reznikov of any wrongdoing, saying the shift was dictated by the logic of “war.”

According to an AFP report, Zelensky said “Reznikov would be appointed minister for strategic industries.”

“But confusion only deepened when Arakhamia [then] said that the replacement would not take place,” the report continued.

“The next day Zelensky urged Ukrainians to refrain from ‘spreading any rumours or other pseudo-information’ but confirmed that change was under way.”

Of course, we are used to the charge of false information being marshaled against inconvenient facts. What then is the reason this clearly guilty man is left in charge of the lucrative war machine of Ukraine?

One explanation may lie in Reznikov’s relationship management skills. When his replacement was being considered, Political analyst Anatoly Oktysiuk remarked:

Reznikov managed to build strong connections with Western officials, and questioned whether his successor would be able to take on Reznikov’s role as a ‘successful diplomat.’

The corrupt defense minister was not replaced because he has good relations with the Western politicians who are donating all the money and weapons. The democratic vote of the Rada Verkhovna was simply ignored, as so many fortunes now depend on the ability of men like Reznikov to keep the money coming in.

The so-called “reshuffle,” later branded an anti-corruption drive, has terminated without explanation. It is perhaps better understood as a means to replace many government and regional officials with hand-picked, U.S.-backed placemen, in a process coincidentally accelerated, then ended, following the visit of the CIA chief.

Having released his hounds, Mr. Burns cedes the spotlight to the U.S. Treasury Secretary, who “arrived in Kiev as air raid sirens rang out overnight” in a replay of the performance conducted to mark the visit of President Joe Biden.

Janet Yellen, whose personal expertise in monetizing public appearances is well documented, had only warm praise to offer Zelensky during her visit on Monday, February 27:

Your steady hand and prudent economic management in the face of tremendous economic challenges has made a meaningful impact in helping stabilize Ukraine’s economy.

Yellen is reported to have made over $7 million from her public appearances, speaking to bankers such as Goldman Sachs and Barclays. This is a modest sum compared to the billions Zelensky has drummed up through his own public relations efforts, whose success has still not seen him with sufficient spending money to buy a suit.

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