Gaetz, Waltz Question Veracity of Ukraine Funding

Gaetz, Waltz Question Veracity of Ukraine Funding

“The United States provided $30 billion in security assistance.

Daniel Molina
Daniel Molina
|
February 28, 2023

Tensions continue to rise between Florida Republicans and the Department of Defense. During a House Armed Services Committee hearing, Florida Reps. Matt Gaetz (R) and Mike Waltz (R) questioned Inspector General Robert Storch regarding funding for the war in Ukraine.

Since the beginning of the war one year ago, Congress has steadfastly supported the efforts for Ukraine to defend itself. However, Republicans have questioned if effective oversight is ensuring that military equipment is reaching the right recipients in Ukraine. The United States is the top contributor of aid and military equipment to Ukraine, and so far it has donated over $113 billion to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

Rep. Gaetz, who questioned Storch during the hearing, warned that “there’s a long history of issues with corruption in Ukraine.” As such, he cited that “the wife of a former Ukrainian politician was found with $22 million in cash crossing the border into Hungary last year.”

In response to the concern, Storch clarified that the Department is “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” to verify who’s receiving the military equipment and funding.

Waltz further questioned the timing of the U.S. military assistance providing to Ukraine and the “unbalanced burden-sharing of that aid between the U.S. and our European allies.”

“The United States provided $30 billion in security assistance,” said Waltz, adding that “the next nearest is Germany at $3.5 billion, a tenth of what we provided; UK less than $3 billion; France less than $1 billion, they’re in the hundreds of millions; and poor Estonia, has provided three times, just by percentage of GDP, what France has provided.”

In turn, Waltz questioned why European countries have not provided more, asking “is that fair? Is that fair and effective burden sharing from your perspective?”

 

Here is the complete interaction between Rep. Gaetz and Inspector General Storch:

Rep. Gaetz: Mr. Storch, you're our watchdog. Ukraine has a corruption problem, right?

Robert Storch: There's a long history of issues with corruption in Ukraine. I don't–

Rep. Gaetz: Infrastructure Minister arrested for stealing $400,000. Deputy head of Zelensky 's office can't explain where the sportscars came from so he had to resign. Deputy Defense Minister resigned over contracting corruption, but the defense ministry put out a statement that his resignation was a worthy deed.

The wife of a former Ukrainian politician was found with $22 million in cash crossing the border into Hungary last year. Seems as though a lot of the zeal for enforcement of the anti-corruption efforts seems to align with the Republican control the House of Representatives in our country. Maybe that's a coincidence. But let's get to this end-use monitoring you testified to.

The Arms Control Act of 1996 requires end-use monitoring for certain defense articles that are sold or leased, right?

Robert Storch: Correct.

Rep. Gaetz: And there's no feature of anything we've passed that exempts what we've given to Ukraine from those requirements in the Arms Control Act, right?

Robert Storch: Not– not exempts. There are different provisions as to how that plays–

Rep. Gaetz: That is controlling role controlling policy, and here's the upshot. 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?

Robert Storch: So I want to be careful here when I respond to you, Congressman, to make sure that that I'm clear. 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.

Rep. Gaetz: I get all that, but here's the operative question. We haven't complied with end-use monitoring according to the law with everything we've sent to Ukraine to date, have we?

Robert Storch: So our 2020 report, which is our last public report on this made a number of recommendations, all of those–

Rep. Gaetz: I know, I know, but you're sort of dodging the question. You cannot testify that we have complied with the end-use monitoring requirements at all times during this conflict, can you?

Robert Storch: So we have an ongoing evaluation right now–

Rep. Gaetz: I get that it's ongoing. I'm looking backwards. You cannot testify that everything has complied with the law in the end-use monitoring, can you?

Robert Storch: So some of that gets into the classified report that we issued previously–

Rep. Gaetz: Right but I think everyone watching this could see that if you could testify to that, you would. You're citing a classified report. 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.

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Daniel Molina

Daniel Molina

Daniel Molina is an award-winning senior reporter based in Miami. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English Literature from Florida International University. His hobbies include reading, writing, and watching films.

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