A leaked US government strategy shows the Biden administration is far more concerned about corruption in Ukraine than it’s publicly letting on, Politico reported on Monday.
The State Department quietly released a 22-page public version of an Integrated Country Strategy for Ukraine that makes clear corruption is a major concern for the US. The strategy outlines long-term goals for US policy in Ukraine with an emphasis on rooting out corruption. “Ukraine must slay the corruption dragon once and for all,” the public version of the document reads.
According to Politico, the confidential version of the strategy is three times as long and uses even stronger language when discussing Ukraine’s corruption.
“Perceptions of high-level corruption,” the confidential document warns, could “undermine the Ukrainian public’s and foreign leaders’ confidence in the war-time government.”
Ukraine has long been notorious for its corruption, but the US has sought to downplay the issue as it has poured tens of billions of dollars in weapons and economic aid since the Russian invasion. But recent corruption scandals have brought Ukrainian graft back into the news and resulted in mass firings, including President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent sacking of his defense minister and six deputy defense ministers.
A US official speaking to POLITICO acknowledged that “there are some honest conversations happening behind the scenes” regarding Ukraine’s corruption.
Another US official said the Biden administration was discussing with Ukrainian officials the idea of potentially conditioning future economic aid on “reforms to tackle corruption and make Ukraine a more attractive place for private investment.”
The official said that the idea of conditioning military aid is not being discussed as the administration is determined to keep the proxy war going, no matter what risks or costs are involved.
This was not a “leak”
Biden Admin wants this released. They’re going to blame failure on Ukraine’s corruption, which in all fairness, is more true than most excuses these people feed ushttps://t.co/ciDMRkyNRD
— Brad Pearce (@WaywardRabbler) October 2, 2023
Other long-term goals for Ukraine outlined in the strategy include Ukraine’s military adopting NATO standards and establishing a “domestic defense industry” in Ukraine that’s “capable of supporting core needs.”
The strategy also calls for the creation of a “national level resistance plan,” which could mean the US supporting an insurgency if Russia gains more territory. The State Department would not clarify that point when asked by Politico.