Defense officials in Ukraine reportedly stole $40 million that was intended to pay for ammunition, the internal Security Service of Ukraine said this weekend. Kyiv has carried out a corruption crackdown in recent months in a bid to comply with EU membership guidelines.
The revelation comes as Ukraine has struggled to secure additional defense funding for its war against Russia, and public support for more aid has waned around the world.
This year will be crucial in determining the future of the war
The status of the conflict is best described as a “stalemate,” but 2024 will likely “determine the future trajectory of the war,” analysts wrote for War On The Rocks. Ukraine is not in a position to launch another major counteroffensive this year, given that Russia currently has more military and manpower advantages. However, with lessons learned from 2023’s failures, along with “tailored Western support,” Ukraine might be able to “take another shot at inflicting a major defeat on Russian forces” in 2025, the analysts wrote. For this, Ukraine and its Western allies “need a new strategic vision” that goes beyond the next six months.
New US plan for Ukraine doesn’t involve aggressive military offensive against Russia
Waning public support, dwindling funds, and low morale amongst Ukrainian troops mean that Kyiv is facing stiffer prospects than it has so far as the war approaches its second anniversary next month. Following a largely unsuccessful counteroffensive push by Kyiv last year, Washington is now trying to renegotiate its support for Ukraine. As the U.S. doesn’t believe Ukraine will be able to retake its lost territory this year, plans for the war’s future will focus instead on ensuring that Ukraine doesn’t lose any additional territory to Russia and on working towards its long-term security and economic goals, The Washington Post reported, citing senior U.S. officials. The aim, one official explained, is to “put [Kyiv] on a different trajectory to be much stronger by the end of 2024 … and get them on a more sustainable path.” The hope is also to “future-proof” Ukraine aid against a potential Trump presidency.
US aid to Ukraine threatened by Trump
U.S. lawmakers have repeatedly locked horns over continued funding for Ukraine. A bipartisan Senate deal that combines border measures with Ukraine aid is “still alive,” Semafor Principals reported last week, but questions are swirling about whether Republicans will succumb to Donald Trump’s attempts to squash it.
Meanwhile, Kyiv has earmarked the majority of its annual budget to defense spending, Politico reported, and relies largely on borrowing to keep its military funded. Government debt is high, and the IMF believes that the debt “will become unsustainable without restructuring and fiscal reform,” Politico noted.