Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba has dismissed concerns that his country is allegedly mishandling the Western funding routed to support Kyiv’s defense against Russia.
“We are absolutely clean when it comes to the use of resources provided to us by our partners. This is why we so openly and quickly agreed to step up to receive this delegation permission from the United States that is overviewing the use of resources,” he told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble Saturday at the Munich Security Conference.
It comes after a crack-down on potential corruption by the government of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in recent weeks, as some Western officials worry about the transparency and allocation of billions of dollars in foreign aid funds. Ukraine is regularly ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in Europe.
“We have nothing to hide. We are absolutely, absolutely open and transparent on that. There will always be people who will be claiming corruption and making various points pursuing one goal: to decrease the level of support to Ukraine,” Kuleba added on Saturday.
He also stressed that the world’s governments should understand that the price of “fixing the situation if Ukraine loses” to Russia would far exceed the cost of current assistance from Kyiv’s allies.
Kuleba stressed that, unlike other countries at war, Ukraine has not requested military personnel be supplied. “Everything we are asking for is weapons. Weapons. We will be doing the fighting.”
Western allies have rallied around Ukraine in the almost one year since Russia’s devastating full-scale invasion of the country, donating military and monetary support to Kyiv and imposing sanctions on Russian entities and nationals. Several European countries have now agreed to send tank vehicles to Ukraine, although this falls short of meeting Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy’s appeals for fighter jets.
The Russian offensive has ravaged Ukraine, with the International Monetary Fund estimating that Kyiv’s financial needs could exceed $40 billion this year alone, according to fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.
This funding is required even as Ukraine’s economy is projected to swing back to growth in 2023, following a 30% contraction last year. The IMF is weeks away from finalizing a fully-fledged support program for Ukraine, Georgieva revealed on Saturday.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, meanwhile, said it is inconceivable that Moscow will not contribute towards Ukraine’s rehabilitation:
“It’s unthinkable that, in the very end, the international community will reconstruct Ukraine, and Russia does not contribute. This is not thinkable,” she told CNBC on Saturday.
A “global war”
Kuleba stressed the geopolitical importance of supporting Ukraine’s opposition against Moscow, forecasting dire global consequences if Kyiv was defeated.
“If Russia is allowed to prevail in Ukraine, fine, then everyone else will follow the pattern and the world will end up in chaos, and let’s see then how high will be the price of fixing the world again,” he said.
Earlier on Saturday, the office of British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who met U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris at the Munich Security Conference, said in a statement that the two officials “agreed that [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s war in Ukraine is a global war, both in terms of its impact on food and energy security and in terms of its implications for nationally accepted norms like sovereignty. The Prime Minister and Vice President Harris condemned those countries who have supported Putin’s efforts politically and militarily.”
Harris separately said Washington had formally concluded that Russia had committed crimes against humanity in Ukraine, including murder, torture, rape, deportation and execution-style killings. This determination builds on and escalates Washington’s March pronouncement that Moscow was responsible for war crimes in Ukraine.
In a speech at the same Munich conference, German Minister of Defense Boris Pistorius said that he had reassured Ukrainian President Volodomyr Zelenskyy that “Ukraine must win the war” and that Berlin will “help Ukraine for as long as it takes.”
Pistorius assumed his post a mere month ago, after his predecessor Christine Lambrecht tendered her resignation amid intense scrutiny over Germany’s response to the war in Ukraine.
“We are again facing a massive threat to our freedom and security. Russia is waging a brutal war of aggression and conquest against Ukraine. And if Putin had his way, this would only be the beginning,” Pistorius said.
Also speaking to CNBC from Munich, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Saturday stressed that Moscow appears prepared to continue its hostilities:
“They are mobilizing more to produce weapons ammunition to be able to launch new offensives in Ukraine,” he said. “There are no signs that President Putin is preparing or planning for peace. He is preparing for more war, for new offensives, mobilizing more troops and setting the Russian economy on a war footing.”