This article was corrected to reflect that the origin of the weapons and ammunition including grenade launchers obtained by criminal gangs and arms traffickers in Ukraine was not identified in the available portions of the report.
Criminal gangs, arms traffickers and other bad actors in Ukraine accessed dangerous weapons including grenade launchers, machine guns, bulletproof vests for battle and 1,000 rounds of ammunition, the Defense Department’s internal watchdog found.
The Heritage Foundation’s Oversight Project obtained the 19-page report by the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General through the Freedom of Information Act.
“In late June 2022, the SBU disrupted a group of Ukrainian criminals posing as members of a humanitarian aid organization who distributed bulletproof vests,” the report says. “The group illicitly imported the vests and sold them, rather than distributed them to Ukrainian forces. A member of the group was found with a cache of vests worth $17,000.”
The “SBU” refers to the Sluzhba Bezpeky Ukrainy, or the Security Service of Ukraine.
“In late June 2022, the SBU dismantled an organized crime group that was controlled by an unspecified Russian official,” the IG report continues. “The group members joined a volunteer battalion using forged identity documents and procured weapons, including grenade launcher and a machine gun, and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition. The perceived intent of the group was to conduct destabilizing activities.”
The report, only now made public, was issued last Oct. 6. Since the Russian invasion in February 2022, the United States has given more than $100 billion in assistance to Ukraine, which includes military, humanitarian, and financial aid. In April of this year, Congress approved an emergency $35.4 billion aid package to Ukraine.
“During the evaluation, we found that the DoD was unable to provide ‘[end-use] monitoring (EUM) in accordance with DOD policy because of limited U.S. presence in Ukraine,” says the report, written by Jefferson L. DuBinok, the acting assistant inspector general for evaluations program, combatant commands, and overseas contingency operations. “Therefore, we are issuing this report identifying the challenges faced by DoD personnel responsible for conducting EUM and Enhanced EUM (EEUM) when there are limited or no U.S. personnel present in the area the equipment is being used.”
The report goes on to cite other examples of weapons and ammunition falling into the wrong hands.
“In late June 2022, the SBU disrupted a group of arms traffickers who were selling weapons and ammunition stolen from the front lines in southern Ukraine,” the report says.
Other groups and individuals illegally stored weapons provided by the United States, according to the report.
“In mid-August 2022, the SBU disrupted a group of volunteer battalion members who took more than 60 rifles and almost 1,000 rounds of ammunition and stored them illegally in a warehouse, presumably for sale on the black market,” the report says.
Last week, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed its version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which would call for a special inspector general to oversee spending in Ukraine—similar to those of past conflicts, such as in Afghanistan.
The Biden administration opposes the move for a special inspector general that would mean additional oversight arguing in a statement that the Pentagon inspector general and the Government Accountability Office “are currently undertaking multiple investigations regarding every aspect of this assistance—from assessing the [department’s] processes for developing security assistance requirements to evaluating the end-use monitoring processes for delivered assistance—at the request of the Congress.”
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