Some members of Congress are putting pressure on the Pentagon over the lack of oversight for the billions in US weapons that are being pumped into Ukraine. Politico reported Thursday that there are lawmakers who have warned the Biden administration that the overwhelming congressional support for Ukraine aid could wane if the issue is not addressed.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) tried to add a provision to the $40 billion Ukraine aid that would create a new inspector general for oversight, but his effort failed. The measure passed in a vote of 86-11, with only Republicans voting no, mostly because of the lack of accountability for how the funds will be spent.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also called for oversight of the aid being sent to Ukraine. “The US government is sending billions in humanitarian, economic, and military assistance to help the Ukrainian people overcome Putin’s brutal war, and the American people expect strong oversight by Congress and full accounting from the Department of Defense,” she said.
Demonstrating the severe lack of oversight, CNN reported in April that the US has “almost zero” ability to track the weapons it is sending once they enter Ukraine. One source briefed on US intelligence described it as dropping the arms into a “big black hole.”
The head of Interpol sounded the alarm on Wednesday over the number of weapons that are pouring into Ukraine, warning that they will end up in the hands of criminals. “The high availability of weapons during the current conflict will result in the proliferation in illicit arms in the post-conflict phase,” said Interpol Secretary-General Juergen Stock. “Even weapons that are used by the military, heavy weapons, will be available on the criminal market.”
Responding to the criticism of the lack of oversight, Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth appeared to blame the issue on Russia. “Risk of diversion is one of many considerations that we routinely assess when evaluating any potential arms transfer,” Semelroth said. “In this case, risk would be considerably minimized by the full withdrawal from Ukraine by Russian forces.”