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Zelensky’s Corruption Problem

With the war started by Russia entering its third year, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is also fighting on another front—corruption.
On January 9, Zelensky’s defense minister, Rustem Umerov, said an audit had uncovered corruption connected to military procurement worth 10 billion hryvnia ($262 million) in only the four months he had been in post. His predecessor, Oleksii Reznikov, resigned in September over scandals that threatened to sap domestic and international confidence in Kyiv.
These cases included the dismissal of two senior officials over allegations the ministry had inflated contracts for food supplied to troops, including eggs. In December, a defense ministry official was arrested on suspicions that he embezzled nearly $40 million in the fraudulent purchase of much-needed artillery shells for Ukraine’s military.
Zelensky’s Corruption Problem Zelensky’s Corruption Problem Getty Images
There was also outrage in August over inflated prices for an order of 233,000 jackets for $20m from Turkish firm Vector Avia that were too light and thus useless for the impending winter.
Reznikov was not personally implicated in the scandals, but his resignation letter admitted the bad optics, amid a deadlock over continued financial aid in the U.S. and the EU whose leaders do not want to see money to fight Russia being siphoned off.
It marks a shift in the kind of corruption Zelensky has to tackle, which before the war involved influence peddling to avoid investigation or to get favorable terms.



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