A leaked document is offering a glimpse into how the Biden administration truly feels about Ukraine. According to Politico, which was given access to the confidential document, it shows a far more concerned posture regarding corruption in the Eastern European nation than has been indicated publicly.
Biden administration officials are far more worried about corruption in Ukraine than they publicly admit, a confidential U.S. strategy document obtained by POLITICO suggests.
The “sensitive but unclassified” version of the long-term U.S. plan lays out numerous steps Washington is taking to help Kyiv root out malfeasance and otherwise reform an array of Ukrainian sectors. It stresses that corruption could cause Western allies to abandon Ukraine’s fight against Russia’s invasion, and that Kyiv cannot put off the anti-graft effort.
In a vacuum, there’s nothing especially wrong with what is the strategic document. Obviously, Ukraine has dealt with corruption since gaining sovereignty from the Soviet Union. Efforts to curtail that are laudable.
What makes this so egregious, though, is that it’s a completely different song than what is sung in public. Anyone who even suggests that corruption is a problem in Ukraine is typically shouted down as a lover of Vladimir Putin. So apparently, it’s really terrible for you to question Volodymyr Zelensky’s government, but it’s just fine for the Biden administration to do behind closed doors.
In fact, the State Department put out a sanitized version of this same strategic document in early September. Missing from it was any mention of the fight against Ukrainian corruption in order to hold the current alliances together.
That’s starker than the analysis available in the little-noticed public version of the 22-page document, which the State Department appears to have posted on its website with no fanfare about a month ago.
The confidential version of the “Integrated Country Strategy” is about three times as long and contains many more details about U.S. objectives in Ukraine, from privatizing its banks to helping more schools teach English to encouraging its military to adopt NATO protocols. Many goals are designed to reduce the corruption that bedevils the country.
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.
That final sentence says it all. The Biden administration is more worried about messaging than just telling the American people the truth. Why? Because the truth might hurt support for continuing to fund the proxy war.
Is that really how things should go? I’d posit not, especially when so many people have been maligned and attacked for essentially saying what the Biden administration is admitting in private. Accountability for the enormous amount of foreign and military aid sent to Ukraine is a good thing. We can’t have that if the current administration continues to talk out of both sides of its mouth about what the actual risks are.
Clearly, Ukraine has corruption issues, and that means we should be even more diligent in tracking every dollar that makes its way there. Instead, according to Politico’s report, attempts to keep the pressure on were halted once the invasion began. You can support Ukraine without giving its government a free pass, and right now, it’s getting a free pass. That we are all being misled about it makes the matter even worse.