The Biden administration revealed in a leaked confidential strategy document that they are far more worried about corruption in Ukraine than they publicly admit, according to a report by Politico.
According to the report, the document warned that “perceptions of high-level corruption [could] undermine the Ukrainian public’s and foreign leaders’ confidence in the war-time effort.”
That assessment was not included in a public version of the document which was posted on the State Department’s website about a month ago.
The document included “numerous steps” Washington is taking to help Kyiv root out corruption, which it said could cause Western allies to abandon Ukraine’s fight against Russia.
Politico‘s Nahal Toosi reported:
The quiet release of the strategy, and the fact that the toughest language was left in the confidential version, underscores the messaging challenge facing the Biden team.
The administration wants to press Ukraine to cut graft, not least because U.S. dollars are at stake. But being too loud about the issue could embolden opponents of U.S. aid to Ukraine, many of them Republican lawmakers who are trying to block such assistance. Any perception of weakened American support for Kyiv also could cause more European countries to think twice about their role.
The administration’s ongoing concern about corruption has been hidden at the same time Biden has pressed for an additional $24 billion for Ukraine through the end of the year, on top of the $113 billion or so already committed since February.
There is already waning support among the American public for blank-check spending on Ukraine, according to recent polls, and an increasing number of Republican senators and lawmakers are saying “enough.”
A recent CBS News “60 Minutes” report threatened to further weaken public support for Ukraine after it said $25 billion of American taxpayer funds were going to non-military aid supporting Ukraine’s economy and small businesses — including designer knitwear.
The fight over funding for Ukraine came to a head over the weekend, when Congress passed a short-term funding bill that included no funding for Ukraine. President Joe Biden has alleged that House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has assured him he would hold a separate vote for Ukraine funding.
A United States official claimed to Politico that the Biden administration is talking to Ukrainian leaders about conditioning future non-military aid on corruption reforms.