weather icon Clear
RJ App
Vegas News, Alerts, ePaper

EDITORIAL: Subjecting Ukraine aid to more scrutiny a good idea

Congress appropriated $113 billion in 2022 to help Ukraine defend itself from Russian aggression. Auditors are now bolstering efforts to ensure the money — directed to economic and military purposes — is spent appropriately. This is a sensible protection for U.S. taxpayers.

The Wall Street Journal reported last week that officials charged with monitoring the use of American funds in Ukraine will step up scrutiny by deploying “auditors and investigators directly into the war zone to beef up monitoring as the scale and scope of American assistance expands.” Previously, the Pentagon and State Department had conducted such oversight remotely through personnel based in Washington, Poland and Germany.

The purpose, the paper noted, is to ensure “U.S. weapons aren’t diverted, taxpayer funds aren’t siphoned off and aid programs are working properly.”

Some congressional Republicans have expressed trepidation at sending more money to Ukraine, but their concerns have so far been overwhelmed by the obvious geopolitical implications of Russia’s invasion of a sovereign European democracy. The GOP leadership — along with the Biden administration — remains committed to helping Ukraine fend off Vladimir Putin’s illegal military action.

Given those political realities, it’s imperative that U.S. auditors — which number nearly nine score — more aggressively track how the financial and military assistance is being used. That will require a greater presence in the beleaguered country.

“I think we’ve been as creative and … forward-leaning with the oversight we’ve been able to accomplish so far,” Nicole Angarella, acting deputy USAID inspector general, told the Journal. “But for real comprehensive, robust oversight, it can’t be done remotely. The closer we are, the more comprehensive oversight will be.”

At this point, the Journal noted, audits have uncovered no evidence of major problems with how Ukraine has used U.S. aid, some of which has gone to pay the salaries of Ukrainian civil servants. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, aware of critics who maintain graft is prevalent in his nation, has “stepped up anti-corruption efforts, firing officials and ordering raids of former officials,” according to the Journal.

Zelenskyy is savvy enough to understand that U.S. taxpayers will have little tolerance if it’s discovered that their generous contributions to Ukraine’s war effort have been misappropriated. He also understands that the American people do not have limitless financial resources.

The decision to bolster American oversight of aid will further the objectives of everyone involved by making it more likely that resources are used as intended, thus providing assurances to U.S. taxpayers while strengthening the efficiency of the Ukraine war effort.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.