«Виробити такий формат гарантій, який справді працюватиме. Причому працюватиме не кілька місяців чи років, а протягом життя багатьох поколінь наших українців»
«Виробити такий формат гарантій, який справді працюватиме. Причому працюватиме не кілька місяців чи років, а протягом життя багатьох поколінь наших українців»
24 травня колишній канцлер Німеччини заявив у соцмережах, що «деякий час тому» повідомив «Газпрому», що його не цікавить ця посада
Prominent Ukrainian anti-corruption campaigners say they have seen no signs that their armed forces are misusing Western military supplies in the three months since Russia began its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, a country long perceived as among the world’s most corrupt.
The head of the Ukrainian government’s National Agency on Corruption Prevention (NACP), Oleksandr Novikov, told VOA in a May 17 interview that his counterparts at the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU), a sister agency, had not opened any new investigations into high level corruption in the Ukrainian military since the full-scale Russian invasion started on February 24.
Novikov’s NACP, one of Ukraine’s three main official anti-corruption bodies, develops regulations aimed at preventing corruption and seeks to ensure compliance. NABU investigates corruption and prepares cases for prosecution, while the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office (SAPO) charges and prosecutes suspects.
Novikov appointed NABU’s last chief, Artem Sytnyk, as his deputy earlier this month. Asked if there have been any recent government investigations of high-level corruption in the military, Novikov said, “I know NABU did not have any new cases since February 24.”
Asked for a comment, NABU emailed VOA to say that its acting director, Gizo Uglava, who replaced Sytnyk last month, could not discuss the matter “due to its sensitivity.”
Novikov said each delivery of Western military aid is monitored by a separate intelligence officer of the Security Service of Ukraine. He said the SSU monitoring is part of Kyiv’s “rigorous process that guarantees the integrity” of those supplies.
Ukraine’s handling of the Western military aid is under increasing scrutiny in the U.S., which last week approved sending more weapons and equipment to Kyiv after supplying several billion dollars’ worth of security assistance in recent months to help it repel the Russian invaders.
Corruption had been rampant in the Ukrainian defense industry until 2014, leaving the military unable to function effectively that year as Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula and helped pro-Russian separatists seize parts of eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region.
U.S. Ambassador Kurt Volker, who served as U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations from 2017 to 2019, told VOA there was an improvement after 2014 as the U.S., Canada and other nations advised Kyiv in fighting corruption within its defense establishment.
But Ukraine still had much work to do to improve its global reputation prior to February 24. It ranked a lowly 122 out of 180 countries in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index of Transparency International, a Berlin-based research group whose annual corruption rankings are among the world’s most influential. Ukraine’s CPI ranking had been even lower at 144 in 2013.
In an article published last month, CNN cited U.S. defense officials and analysts as saying the lack of U.S. military personnel inside Ukraine means Washington has few ways to track how Kyiv uses Western military supplies, which they fear could be trafficked in the long run.
There are no indications of Western military supplies in Ukraine being diverted in recent months, according to a former U.S. official involved in training and equipping Ukraine’s armed forces after 2014. The source spoke to VOA on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to comment on the issue.
The executive director of Transparency International’s Ukraine branch, Andrii Borovyk, told VOA that he also has not seen any concrete reports of recent corruption in the Ukrainian military.
His group had appealed to Ukrainians in an April 29 statement to report such activity to relevant authorities.
Speaking via Zoom on May 18, Borovyk said one reason for the lack of corruption reporting is Ukraine’s martial law, under which the government has stopped publishing details about what it is buying and for what prices. “I’m not saying there is no corruption. In this uncertain situation, I’m sure there are people who want to profit from government procurement processes,” he said.
The SSU reported on May 19 that it busted a scheme by local officials to illegally sell more than 1,000 bulletproof vests that had been produced by a Ukrainian company for provision to Ukrainian security personnel at no cost. The SSU said the vests were worth $407,000.
The rarity of such public reporting about military-related corruption, Borovyk said, also reflects a shift in priorities for Ukraine’s independent and governmental anti-corruption campaigners.
“We all work only toward one aim, which is for a victory against Russia,” Borovyk said. “If we will not have a country, where are we going to fight corruption? We want to build up the rule of law here in Ukraine.”
Yuri Nikolov, another Ukrainian anti-corruption researcher who co-founded independent group Nashi Groshi (Our Money), told VOA in a May 19 interview that he believes Russia’s full-scale invasion has effectively forced corrupt actors in the Ukrainian military to stop illicit behavior.
“That [Western] military hardware is the only thing that will protect our lives,” Nikolov said. “That’s why we are not interested in stealing it. It is more needed in the battlefields.”
Volker, now a fellow at the Center for European Policy Analysis, said theft of Western military supplies under such circumstances would be viewed by many Ukrainians as treason, a much more serious offense than the petty or systemic corruption that existed before.
The assertion that wartime pressures have stamped out military corruption in Ukraine is viewed skeptically by former U.S. diplomat James Wasserstrom, who served as an anticorruption advisor at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and led a U.S. government oversight team that reported on corruption in Afghanistan.
Wasserstrom later worked in Ukraine from 2016 to 2019 as an international expert for an independent committee monitoring defense sector corruption. That committee evolved into Ukraine’s Independent Anti-Corruption Commission, known by its Ukrainian acronym NAKO, and is a partner organization of Transparency International.
Speaking to VOA on May 18, Wasserstrom was unimpressed by NACP chief Novikov’s assertion that SSU intelligence agents were safeguarding Western military supplies. He noted a 2017 NAKO study citing Ukrainian media accusations that Ukrainian security service personnel were involved in illegal trading of goods between government-controlled territory and regions run by pro-Russian separatists.
“I’ve heard nothing that would indicate any change in SSU behavior in the last three years,” Wasserstrom said, adding that assigning the agency to monitor Western military aid is “like putting a fox in charge of the henhouse.”
Wasserstrom also was skeptical about independent campaigner Borovyk’s assertion that Ukraine’s anti-corruption organizations have been so pre-occupied with helping their armed forces to fight Russian invaders that investigating corruption within those Ukrainian forces is not a priority. He noted that his former investigative committee had worked in Kyiv while the Ukrainian military was fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east.
“Just because you’re fighting a war does not mean that you have to tolerate corruption. You don’t need to. It’s a false choice,” he said.
Wasserstrom said he believes the lack of public reporting about corruption in Ukraine’s military is a result of many Ukrainians feeling that speaking out about corrupt activity would be as treasonous to their nation’s war effort as engaging in the activity itself. “So I’d be shocked if you found anybody who would admit to any of this,” he said.
Borovyk said whoever may have engaged in corruption in the past three months will be investigated eventually. “These people should understand that when we get the victory against Russia, we will find all of them.”
He also vowed that his group will keep pressing the Ukrainian government for stronger reforms, including the appointment of a credible new leader for the Specialized Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office. “Regarding those who are against these reforms or are trying to slow them down, how else can I describe them as internal enemies,” he said.
Ця ліцензія дозволяла Москві продовжувати виплачувати відсотки та основну суму боргу і запобігати дефолту за своїм державним боргом
The U.S. will close the last avenue for Russia to pay its billions in debt back to international investors on Wednesday, making a Russian default on its debts for the first time since the Bolshevik Revolution all but inevitable.
The Treasury Department said in a notification that it does not plan to renew the license to allow Russia to keep paying its debtholders through American banks.
Since the first rounds of sanctions, the Treasury Department has given banks a license to process any bond payments from Russia. That window expires at midnight May 25.
There had already been signs that the Biden administration was unwilling to extend the deadline. At a press conference heading into the Group of Seven finance minister meetings in Koenigswinter, Germany, last week, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said the window existed “to allow a period of time for an orderly transition to take place, and for investors to be able to sell securities.”
“The expectation was that it was time-limited,” Yellen said.
Without the license to use U.S. banks to pay its debts, Russia would have no ability to repay its international bond investors. The Kremlin has been using JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup as its conduits to pay its obligations.
Jay Auslander, a prominent sovereign debt lawyer who previously litigated other debt crises like the one in Argentina, said at this point most of the institutional investors in Russian debts have likely sold their holdings, knowing this deadline was coming. Those who are still holding the debts are either distressed debt investors or those willing to wait to litigate it over the next few years.
“The majority who wanted out have gotten out. The only issue is finding buyers,” he said.
The Kremlin appears to have foreseen the likelihood that the U.S. would not allow Russia to keep paying on its bonds. The Russian Finance Ministry prepaid two bonds on Friday that were due this month to get ahead of the May 25 deadline.
The next payments Russia will need to make on its debts are due on June 23. Like other Russian debt, those bonds have a 30-day grace period — which would cause default by Russia to be declared by late July, barring the unlikely scenario that the Russia-Ukraine war would come to an end before then.
Investors have been almost certain of Russia going into default for months now. Insurance contracts that cover Russian debt have priced a 80% likelihood of default for weeks, and rating agencies like Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s have placed the country’s debt deep into junk territory.
Russia has not defaulted on its international debts since the 1917 Revolution, when the Russian Empire collapsed and the Soviet Union was created. Russia defaulted on its domestic debts in the late 1990s during the Asian Financial Crisis but was able to recover from that default with the help of international aid.
Thousands of Afghan refugees are now living in America, struggling after receiving limited government assistance. One Vietnamese woman who knows the challenge of providing for a family in an unfamiliar country is helping the new arrivals in Seattle, Washington. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti shows us how. Videographer: Saqib Ul Islam
Ending his 6-day trip to Asia, U.S. President Joe Biden used the war in Ukraine to send a message to China to uphold the fundamental principles of the international order.
“Territorial integrity and sovereignty, international law, human rights must always be defended, regardless of where they’re violated in the world,” Biden said in remarks during a Tokyo summit with leaders of Japan, India and Australia — the informal grouping known as the Quad.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine heightens the importance of the administration’s strategy goals to “advance a free, open, connected, secure and resilient Indo-Pacific,” Biden said during the Quad meeting on his last day in Asia, with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and newly elected Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
“As long as Russia continues the war, the United States will work with our partners to help be the global response, because it’s going to affect all parts of the world,” Biden said. “At the same time, the United States must and will be strong, steady, and enduring partner in the Indo-Pacific.”
Kishida echoed Biden’s statement. “Russian invasion into Ukraine squarely challenges the principles which are enshrined in the United Nations Charter,” he said. “We should never, ever allow a similar incident to happen in the Indo-Pacific.”
The Quad joint statement and the remarks of the four leaders did not mention China directly but underscored the goal of building an Indo-Pacific region that respects sovereignty and the rule of law — diplomatic wording understood to be directed at Beijing.
Beijing has dramatically increased its military spending in recent years, including its naval power. It now has the world’s second largest defense budget after the United States. And in terms of the numbers of vessels it claims it has, the Chinese navy is now the biggest in the world, said Sam Roggeveen, director of the Lowy Institute’s International Security Program.
“In terms of its capability, it’s still very much second best to the United States, but it’s catching up very quickly,” Roggeveen told VOA.
While many in the region fear an invasion of Taiwan, Chinese militarization is most acutely felt in the disputed waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has transformed at least three artificial islands into military bases despite President Xi Jinping’s past assurances that it would not.
China controls the Paracel Islands, one of two major archipelagos in the South China Sea, and claims entire ownership of the other — the Spratly Islands — also claimed entirely by Taiwan and Vietnam. Brunei, Malaysia, and the Philippines claim parts of Spratly.
The seas are extremely strategic with trillions of dollars’ worth or approximately one-third of all global maritime trade passing through its shipping lanes each year.
Quad leaders stated they “strongly oppose any coercive, provocative or unilateral actions that seek to change the status quo and increase tensions in the area, such as the militarization of disputed features, the dangerous use of coast guard vessels and maritime militia, and efforts to disrupt other countries’ offshore resource exploitation activities.”
Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness
As part of an effort to counter Chinese activity in the region, Quad leaders unveiled a maritime initiative aimed at monitoring territorial waters, the Indo-Pacific Partnership for Maritime Domain Awareness, IPMDA.
According to a statement released by the White House, the program will use satellite technology to connect existing surveillance centers and create a tracking system for illegal fishing from the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asia to the South Pacific. It will track “dark shipping” — vessels with their transponder systems switched off to avoid detection.
The initiative will also give regional partners the tools they need to conduct rescue at sea and other humanitarian activities, said an administration official in a briefing to reporters.
“The data will be unclassified, which will allow the Quad to provide it to a wide range of partners who wish to benefit,” the official said. “And it recognizes that the primary demand on this in many ways is not from militaries, it is for the equivalent of Coast Guards to be able to do both rescue at sea, to be able to monitor fishing, to be able to track illegal fishing.”
China is the worst illegal fishing offender, according to the 2021 IUU Fishing Index, which maps illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in 152 coastal countries.
Illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing profoundly impacts the economies of regional countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia, removing billions of dollars’ worth of fish every year from their legal trading system.
To share information on these activities with partner countries, the initiative will utilize the existing regional “fusion centers” that are currently focused on tracking maritime piracy, such as the Information Fusion Center-Indian Ocean Region, based in India; the Information Fusion Center, based in Singapore; the Pacific Islands Forum Fisheries Agency, based in the Solomon Islands and the Pacific Fusion Center, based in Vanuatu, both of which receive support from Australia.
While most regional countries are aware of the extent of illegal fishing in their waters, some lack the capacity to address the problem and others lack the political will because they are also engaged in the activity, said Aaron Connelly, a senior fellow for Southeast Asian politics and foreign policy at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
“And so, while this is intended, I think, to highlight Chinese actions in their waters, it may also highlight some of the countries that the United States and the Quad countries are trying to court, what they are doing in others’ waters,” Connelly told VOA.
The initiative lacks details as Quad partners say it will begin consultations with partners in the region. What also remains unclear, Connelly pointed out, is what countries will do with the surveillance data.
“So, I’m not sure that this is going to make a difference,” Connelly said. “It’s not the game changer that the administration in its statement said that it would be.”
As the initiative proceeds, “the Quad will identify future technologies of promise, allowing IPMDA to remain a cutting-edge partnership that promotes peace and stability throughout the region,” according to the White House.
A Moscow court has upheld a nine-year prison term for opposition politician Alexey Navalny, who is already behind bars for a previous conviction he and his supporters have called politically motivated.
Navalny took part in the Tuesday hearing via a video link from a prison in the Vladimir region.
The Kremlin critic used his final statement in court to condemn the Russian authorities for launching the ongoing unprovoked invasion of Ukraine and reiterated his previous statements that all of the charges against him are politically motivated.
Navalny was handed the sentence on March 22 after the court found him guilty of embezzlement and contempt charges that he and his supporters have repeatedly rejected as politically motivated.
Navalny was arrested in January last year upon his arrival to Moscow from Germany, where he was treated for a poison attack with what European labs defined as a Soviet-style nerve agent.
He was then handed a 2 1/2-year prison sentence for violating the terms of an earlier parole because of his convalescence abroad. The original conviction is widely regarded as a trumped-up, politically motivated case.
Navalny has blamed Russian President Vladimir Putin for his poisoning with a Novichok-style chemical substance. The Kremlin has denied any role in the attack.
International organizations consider Navalny a political prisoner.
The European Union, U.S. President Joe Biden, and other international officials have demanded Russia release the 45-year-old Kremlin-critic.
Navalny is currently serving his term in a prison in the town of Pokrov, some 200 kilometers east of Moscow. He is expected to be transferred to a stricter regime prison for the new conviction.
У Міноборони зазначають, що зараз спостерігається найактивніша фаза повномасштабної військової агресії Росії.
Олександр Мотузяник заявив, що зараз спостерігається найактивніша фаза повномасштабної військової агресії Росії.
Вселенський патріархат 9 травня визнав Охридську архієпископію в Північній Македонії.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba Tuesday urged other governments to send more weapons more quickly to aid Ukraine’s fight against Russian forces.
“Too early to conclude that Ukraine already has all the arms it needs,” Kuleba tweeted Tuesday. “Russian offensive in the Donbas is a ruthless battle, the largest one on European soil since WWII. I urge partners to speed up deliveries of weapons and ammunition, especially MLRS, long-range artillery, APCs.”
Britain’s defense ministry said Tuesday that Russian forces have increased the intensity of their operations in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine as they try to encircle multiple cities, including Severodonetsk.
“Russia’s capture of the Severodonetsk pocket would see the whole of Luhansk Oblast placed under Russian occupation. While currently Russia’s main effort, this operation is only one part of Russia’s campaign to seize the Donbas.”
Kuleba’s call for more military help came a day after U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said about 20 countries are sending new security assistance packages for Ukraine.
“Many countries are donating critically needed artillery ammunition, coastal defense systems, tanks and other armored vehicles. Others came forward with new commitments for training Ukraine’s forces and sustaining its military systems,” Austin told reporters at the Pentagon after concluding the second meeting of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group.
Denmark said it would provide Ukrainian forces with a Harpoon launcher and missiles, while the Czech Republic donated attack helicopters, tanks and rocket systems.
Monday’s meeting included 47 nations that participated virtually, according to Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark Milley, the top U.S. military officer. Austria, Colombia and Ireland were among the new participants.
The group’s next meeting will be held June 15 in Brussels.
“Everyone here understands the stakes of this war, and they stretch far beyond Europe,” Austin said.
U.S. President Joe Biden had a similar message Tuesday as he met with the leaders of Japan, India and Australia, telling the group that the conflict in Ukraine “is more than just a European issue, it’s a global issue.”
Citing the widespread effects of the conflict, including on the global food supply, Biden pledged ongoing U.S. support, saying, “as long as Russia continues the war, the United States will work with our partners to help be the global response, because it’s going to affect all parts of the world.”
The American multinational chain of coffeehouses, Starbucks, became the latest company on Monday to announce it will stop operations in Russia, closing its 130 cafes. The move follows an announcement last week by U.S. multinational fastfood chain, McDonald’s, that it was leaving Russia.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address Monday that Russia has launched almost 1,500 missile strikes on Ukraine since the start of the war nearly three months ago. He said the majority of the 1,474 missile strikes were against civilian targets.
Some information for this story came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.
Виконувач обов’язків генпрокурора Молдови Думітру Робу заявив, що Додона затримали на 72 години
Івана Малєєва вже викрадали в квітні, після того, як той відхилив ультиматум про співпрацю
«Мій чоловік сидить у в’язниці вже 15 місяців тому і тільки тому, що він журналіст», сказала Катерина Єсипенко
U.S. President Joe Biden is meeting Tuesday with leaders from an informal alliance known as the Quad. Made up of the United States, Japan, India and Australia, the regional grouping is widely seen as an attempt to contain China.
The summit in Tokyo is the leaders’ second in-person meeting in less than a year.
They are expected to discuss a range of issues, including increasing economic cooperation in Asia as well as responding to Russia’s war in Ukraine.
White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said international “food security” would be another topic up for discussion, with India’s decision a week ago to block exports of Indian-produced wheat on top of Russia’s blocking of Ukrainian exports of the grain.
Biden is in Japan as part of his first trip to Asia as president, after traveling to South Korea.
On Monday, Biden launched a new Asia-Pacific trade initiative, with 13 countries signing up, including India, Japan and South Korea.
The Biden administration says the launch of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework is meant to demonstrate U.S. economic engagement in Asia, including greater cooperation on issues such as the supply chain, clean energy and worker protections.
Intervention in Taiwan
In other developments Monday, Biden said the United States would be willing to intervene to defend Taiwan if China were to invade, the latest Biden comment casting doubt on the long-standing U.S. policy of “strategic ambiguity” on the matter.
At a news conference in Tokyo, Biden was asked whether the United States was willing to “get involved militarily to defend Taiwan,” considering Washington was reluctant to do so following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“Yes. That’s the commitment we made,” Biden said, without elaborating on what a hypothetical U.S. defense of Taiwan would entail.
It is Biden’s latest apparent move away from the approach of “strategic ambiguity” that U.S. presidents have long embraced when talking about a possible Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
In response, China’s Foreign Ministry quickly hit back, saying Beijing has no room for compromise or concessions on matters related to its sovereignty.
Biden made similar remarks in October. In both instances, White House officials quickly attempted to clarify his comments.
“As the president said, our policy has not changed. He reiterated our ‘One China’ policy and our commitment to peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” a White House official said later Monday.
The U.S. official, though, did not walk back Biden’s comments about coming to the defense of Taiwan.
China, a single-party authoritarian state, views democratic Taiwan as a breakaway province and has long vowed to retake it, by force, if necessary. In recent years, Beijing has also flown an increasing number of warplanes near the island.
In Tokyo, Biden said that China is “flirting with danger,” but that he does not expect China will use force to attempt to take Taiwan, especially if the world stands up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“My expectation is that a lot of it depends on just how strongly the world makes clear that that kind of action is going to result in long-term disapprobation,” Biden said.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, who was speaking alongside Biden, offered a less direct answer on whether Japan would intervene militarily to defend Taiwan.
However, Kishida said, “Unilateral attempts to change the status quo by force, like in Ukraine, should never be tolerated in the Indo-Pacific.”
Kishida said he and Biden had underscored the importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait.
Japan has been one of the world’s most outspoken critics of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Biden and Kishida repeatedly condemned the invasion in their public comments Monday.
“This is not a European issue. This has global implications. This has implications for East Asia and Indo-Pacific security matters,” Noriyuki Shikata, Japan’s Cabinet secretary for public affairs, told VOA.
Turkey is vowing to crush the presence of the Kurdish militant group PKK in Iraq. The PKK has used neighboring Iraq as the main base in its war for greater minority rights in Turkey. But as the Turkish military closes in on the PKK, analysts warn that the Kurdish group could turn to Iran, with implications across the region, including US forces in Syria. Dorian Jones reports for VOA from Istanbul.
For full coverage of the crisis in Ukraine, visit Flashpoint Ukraine.
The latest developments in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. All times EDT:
12:01 a.m.: The Guardian shares via Twitter how they documented Russia’s use of illegal weapons
За словами Джо Байдена, необхідність захисту Тайваню стала «ще сильнішою» після масштабного вторгнення Росії в Україну
Основними заходами для боротьби зі спалахом є відстеження контактів та ізоляція, вважають в організації