Afghan Inspector General Warns US Likely to Repeat Mistakes in Ukraine

by | Feb 28, 2023

Afghan Inspector General Warns US Likely to Repeat Mistakes in Ukraine

by | Feb 28, 2023

afghan inspector general warns washington could repeat mistakes in ukraine

The inspector general for the Afghan War said the White House is replicating its failed Afghan War policies in Ukraine on Tuesday. John Sopko, Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), warned about American-made weapons falling into the wrong hands.

“I’m not super optimistic that we are going to learn our lesson,” he told reporters. “I’ve been in Washington since 1982 and learning lessons is not in our DNA in the United States, unfortunately.”

Sopko discussed the US weapons transfers to Ukraine in a report submitted to Congress. “There is an understandable desire amid a crisis to focus on getting money out the door and to worry about oversight later, but too often that creates more problems than it solves,” he wrote. “Given the ongoing conflict and the unprecedented volume of weapons being transferred to Ukraine, the risk that some equipment ends up on the black market or in the wrong hands is likely unavoidable.”

“We’re spending a heck of a lot of money in that country, and any time you spend that much money in any country, you’re bound to get wastage,” he said in a separate interview with Fox News. “You’re bound to get corrupt elements of not only the Ukrainian or the host government, but also of US government contractors or other third party contractors to try to steal the money. There’s just so much money going in, and it’s hard to keep track of.”

The Department of Defense says it has inspectors in Ukraine. In testimony to Congress on Tuesday, the Pentagon’s Undersecretary for Policy Colin Kahl said the White House allows Kiev to track the weapons. Ukraine tracks the arms with scanners provided by Washington, and the data is transferred to American officials at the embassy in Kiev.

The head of the SIGAR office explained that in Afghanistan, the misuse of American assistance contributed to the fall of the Kabul government the US attempted to build over its two-decade war in the country. Without sufficient oversight, aid “gets stolen or diverted to local oligarchs or local politicians, or just the average Ukrainian will see the waste,” Sopko said. The result would mean the loss of “support of the Ukrainian government by the average Ukrainian who’s fighting, dying and bleeding at the front. And that’s what we saw in Afghanistan… And we, the donors, the US, were identified as supporting the corrupt oligarchs.”

Sopko warned that the weapons transfers can be counterproductive if the arms get stolen. “The very worst outcome is that the assistance gets diverted, stolen in such a way that it doesn’t accomplish its intended purpose,” he said.

In his remarks to Congress, Kahl asserted the Pentagon was confident that American weapons sent to Ukraine were not ending up on the black market in significant numbers. However, the defense official admitted Russia had captured US-made weapons.

Rep. Michael Waltz (R-FL) stated relying on Ukraine to track the weapons was not enough. “That kind of eyes-on versus the kind of self-reporting that’s going on from the Ukrainians is incredibly important,” he said.

While Kahl claims there is “no evidence” of American weapons being stolen. CBS News and CNN reported Washington could not adequately track arms transferred to Kiev.

Additionally, Western-made weapons have been spotted in the possession of the Azov Battalion, a neo-Nazi militia that was absorbed into Ukraine’s national guard.

About Kyle Anzalone

Kyle Anzalone is news editor of the Libertarian Institute, opinion editor of Antiwar.com and co-host of Conflicts of Interest with Will Porter and Connor Freeman.

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