Pentagon Inspector General Robert Storch during a recent hearing would not say if the Department of Defense has complied with policy and law regarding end-use monitoring for weapons it has given Ukraine, under questioning from Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL).
Gaetz asked Storch several times during a House Armed Services Committee’s hearing on Ukraine on Tuesday to confirm whether the DOD has complied with the Arms Export Control Act of 1976, meant to make sure U.S. weapons transfers do not fall into the wrong hands.
Gaetz asked him: “As you testify here today, you cannot testify, truthfully under oath, that the DOD has complied with the policy and law regarding end-use monitoring during all times in this conflict. Isn’t that right?”
Storch responded, “We are conducting a series of evaluations that look at the controls that DOD has in place to ensure that they are taking the steps that are required.”
Gaetz asked the question a third time: “You cannot testify that we have complied with the end-use monitoring requirements at all times during this conflict, can you?”
Storch again responded that there was an “ongoing evaluation,” and when Gaetz asked about DOD monitoring in the past, Storch said, “So some of that gets into the classified report that we issued previously.”
Gaetz retorted: “I don’t know why that report is classified. I think the American people deserve to know if this 1996 law is being followed or not. You can’t testify that it is being followed, and so I think they can draw reasonable conclusions from that.”
The Pentagon has spent more than $31 billion in military assistance for Ukraine in less than a year, much of it weapons systems and ammunition from its own stocks.
Storch did say during the hearing, however, that a hotline set up for whistleblowers to report diverted American aid has received “all sorts of types of allegations.”
“We’re continuing to look at them,” Storch said.
During the hearing, Storch and two other defense officials faced grilling from both Republicans and Democrats on whether the DOD was seeing diversion of any of the weapons the DOD has given Ukraine.
The Pentagon’s top policy official, Colin Kahl, repeatedly insisted that the DOD was not seeing “any evidence of significant diversion” of weapons sent to Ukraine.
However, he added, “I think our assessment is if some of these systems have been diverted, it’s by Russians who have captured things on the battlefield which always happens. But there’s no evidence that the Ukrainians are diverting it to the black market or some other things.”
He argued that the Ukrainians were asking for more weapons because “they are using everything that we have provided them.”
He said equipment gets scanned before being given to the Ukrainians, and after it is given to the Ukrainians, they are responsible for giving the DOD information on where it ends up via logs and “digital confirmation.”
He said the DOD has also provided Ukrainians with scanners that transmit data directly back to the DOD, as well as NATO standard inventory and logistics software, which DOD also has access to. He said a team at the U.S. embassy has also done six day trips to different sites in Ukraine.
“Look, this is an active war zone. There are always going to be things that you don’t know are happening or don’t see, but we are not seeing any evidence of systemic diversion of the equipment that the United States has provided,” Kahl said.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky recently fired a number of top officials, some of whom were linked to corruption involving spending for supplies for the Ukrainian military.
According to the annual Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI), Ukraine scored 33 out of 100 on corruption in 2022, which puts the country near the bottom third of 180 countries scored. Out of 180 countries scored, Ukraine was the 116th most corrupt, according to the yearly ranking.
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