Ukraine’s defense minister addresses allegations of military supplies graft

The Ukrainian Defense Minister rejected new graft allegations concerning military supplies on Monday, amid media reports of uniforms being bought for inflated prices during the war with Russia.

Several media outlets have reported that the ministry signed a contract late last year with a Turkish company to supply winter combat fatigues, but the price tripled following the inking of the deal.

Ukrainian journalists have also determined that the winter gear can be purchased in Turkey at considerably lower prices.

They have also reported that one of the owners of the Turkish company is Oleksandre Kassai, a nephew of Gennadi Kassai, who is a member of the same party as President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

Defence Minister Oleksii Reznikov slammed the accusations as false and said the billed prices corresponded to those advertised.

“I urge everyone to treat information more critically and responsibly, because it misleads society and, worse still, it misleads our partners, as from outside you’d say it is a disaster,” Reznikov told a news conference.

“Everything was done in accordance with the law on public procurement” and “via tender procedures,” he insisted.

A previous corruption scandal related to army supplies saw senior Ukrainian officials removed from their posts in January after media revelations that a contract the ministry had signed to purchase food products for soldiers showed amounts similarly overstated.

On that occasion, Reznikov acknowledged his ministry’s anti-corruption services had “failed in their task”.

At the start of the month, Zelenskyy dismissed all the regional officials in charge of military recruitment to weed out corruption, which had included allowing some conscripts to escape from army service.

Since the start of the year, there have been other cases of graft in a country where corruption has long appeared endemic, leading the European Union to insist Kyiv cracks down hard before it can think of becoming a member of the bloc.

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