Ukraine’s security service has launched a corruption investigation into its Ministry of Defence after it was accused of buying food for Ukrainian soldiers at inflated prices.
Maryana Bezuglaya, deputy head of the Ukrainian parliament’s defence committee, ordered Oleksiy Reznikov, the defence minister, to explain the deals and said that corruption could not be ignored.
There has been no suggestion that Reznikov was involved in the deals.
“Our Ministry of Defence did a lot during the war in 2022, but omissions, especially corruption risks, cannot be ignored,” she said. “Even under martial law, we remain a democracy and should be in the future.”
Ukraine’s Ministry of Defence denied inflating food prices, calling the reports “false” and adding that it “purchases the relevant products in accordance with the procedure established by the law”.
Ukrainian media reported that under a ₴13.1 billion deal signed with a local firm in December, the country’s military had committed itself to buying basic products such as eggs, cabbage and potatoes for soldiers in Kyiv and the nearby regions at street prices up to three times higher than what is standard.
This inference is that bribes were paid for the contract, a common problem with state procurement deals in former Soviet countries.
Ukraine’s military budget has ballooned since Russia invaded in February, and any hint of corruption is likely to anger the public.
Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that corrupt officials would be “severely punished”.
”We must conduct an audit, and if this is the case, and if this is true, we will find the people who signed contracts, clearly establish this, and conduct an investigation,” he said.
Zelensky’s Servant of the People party won presidential and parliamentary elections in Ukraine in 2019 on an anti-corruption platform, and officials want to show that even war has not distracted them from their mission.
Last year, it launched investigations into inflated government contracts to buy a range of products.
The president and his government view a crackdown on corruption as vital for modernising Ukraine and pushing for EU and Nato membership.