US watchdogs visit Ukraine for oversight of military, economic assistance

FILE – Ukrainian soldiers prepare a U.S.-supplied M777 howitzer to fire at Russian positions in Kherson region, Ukraine, Jan. 9, 2023. A rapidly expanding group of U.S. and allied troops and contractors are using phones and tablets to communicate in encrypted chat rooms to provide real-time maintenance advice to Ukrainian troops on the battlefield. As the U.S. and other allies provide a growing number of increasingly complex and high-tech weapons, the maintenance demands are expanding. (AP Photo/Libkos, File)

Editor’s note: U.S. oversight officials met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal last week in Ukraine. The information was incorrect in an earlier version of this story.

The three lead officials carrying out oversight of American military and economic assistance to Ukraine concluded a joint trip to Kyiv last week as part of their investigative duties, according to a joint statement.

The leaders from the offices of inspector general for the department of Defense and State and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal and other top officials as part of oversight efforts on billions of dollars of U.S. assistance. 

They also visited the countries of Poland and Germany.

“Our time in Kyiv afforded us the opportunity to directly communicate American taxpayer expectations of transparency and accountability to the Ukrainian government officials responsible for ensuring that U.S. assistance is deployed efficiently and effectively as Ukraine fights to win this war and its future,” Diana Shaw, acting inspector general for the State Department said in a statement.

The visit comes as lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have expressed the need to be vigilant on tracking American tax dollars going to Ukraine. 

Congress has approved two massive assistance packages in response to Russia’s invasion totaling $85 billion. Another aid package is likely to come up around September as part of Congress’s deliberations on spending for fiscal 2024. 

Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) had warned not to expect a “blank check” to be written for Ukraine with Republicans in control of the lower chamber. 

A group of conservative Republicans has opposed U.S. aid and military assistance to Ukraine.

But Republicans supportive of ongoing assistance to Ukraine have welcomed the efforts by the offices of inspector general, even as they have called for oversight. 

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, released a joint statement earlier this month welcoming a plan put forth by the Defense, State and USAID inspectors general.

“The Inspectors Generals’ newly-released Joint Strategic Oversight Plan is a welcome development. We look forward to hearing from them on their findings and recommendations on how to enhance the oversight of these funds and how to replenish U.S. stockpiles in a timely manner,” the chairmen said in the statement.

—Updated Friday at 11:44 a.m.

Tags Germany Kevin McCarthy Mike Rogers Poland russia ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky Volodymyr Zelensky

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