Report: Ukraine soldiers say weapons aid never gets to front line

by WorldTribune Staff, August 22, 2022

Most of the billions of dollars in military aid from the U.S. and other nations never reaches Ukrainian soldiers battling Russia on the front lines, a new report said.

Meanwhile, the politicians in power in Kiev have reaped a windfall from that aid, giving themselves a 70 percent pay raise, The Gray Zone reported on Aug. 18.

A soldier in one Ukrainian unit told The Gray Zone that his entire unit had to share just a handful of AK-47s. / Video Image / Illustrative

“We, the Ukrainian soldiers, have nothing,” a soldier identified only as Ivan told The Gray Zone. “The things the soldiers have been given to use in the war came directly from volunteers. The aid that goes to our government will never reach us.”

The report noted that several of the individuals it interviewed for the report “requested to be quoted under assumed names to protect themselves from potential danger.”

Ivan told The Gray Zone that he is currently stationed in the Donbas region and is tasked with using small, consumer-grade drones to spot Russian positions for artillery targeting.

“There are so many problems on the front line now,” he said. “We don’t have an Internet connection, which makes our work basically impossible. We have to drive to get a connection on mobile devices. Can you imagine?”

“If you tried to explain the situation Ukrainian soldiers are facing to an American soldier, they would think you were insane,” said Ivan. “Imagine telling an American soldier that we are using our personal cars in the war, and we’re also responsible for paying for repairs and fuel. We’re buying our own body armor and helmets. We don’t have observation tools or cameras, so soldiers have to pop their heads out to see what’s coming, which means at any moment, a rocket or tank can tear their heads off.”

In July, Ukraine’s parliamentarians voted to give themselves a 70 percent salary increase. Filings indicate the raise was enabled and encouraged by the billions of dollars and euros of aid that have poured in from the U.S. and Europe, the report noted.

A soldier identified as Illya says his unit, in another part of the Donbas region, lacks weapons and protective gear: “In Ukraine, people cheat each other even in war. I’ve watched the medical supplies donated to us being taken away. The cars that drove us to our position were stolen. And we have not been replaced with new soldiers in three months, though we should have been relieved three times by now.”

When asked if he thought the U.S. and European countries truly want Ukraine to win the war, Ivan laughed, telling The Gray Zone: “No, I don’t think they want us to win. The West could give us weapons to make us stronger than the Russians, but they don’t do this. We know Poland and the Baltic countries want us to win, 100%, but their support isn’t enough.”

Andrey, a Ukrainian journalist based in Mykolayiv, told The Gray Zone: “It is obvious that the U.S. doesn’t want Ukraine to win the war. They only want to make Russia weak. No one will win this war, but the countries the U.S. is using like a playground will lose. And the corruption related to the war aid is shocking. The weapons are stolen, the humanitarian aid is stolen, and we have no idea where the billions sent to this country have gone.”

And, knowing this reality, journalists in Ukraine and those from U.S. legacy media and other Western nations continue to falsely state that Ukraine is winning the war, Andrey said.

“Real journalism is dangerous here,” he said. “You see, since the war started, we have these new star reporters, and every day, they write that ‘Putin is bad, the Russian soldiers behave very badly…today, the Ukrainian army killed 1,000 Russians and destroyed 500 Russian tanks.’ They get a million followers on Twitter because they lie, and this isn’t real reporting. But if you write about the corruption in the Armed Forces, and have real examples…you won’t be famous, and you’ll be in trouble.”

Andrey said he has gotten work setting up interviews and translating for foreign journalists covering the war: “I have worked with about a dozen journalists from different countries in Europe. All of them have been shocked. They left Ukraine shocked. They said they could not believe the situation here. But this shock did not make it into any of their articles about the war. Their articles said that Ukraine is on the road to victory, which is not true.”

On Aug. 4, Amnesty International published a study revealing that since the start of the war in February, Ukrainian forces have endangered civilians by establishing bases in schools and hospitals and operating weapons systems in civilian areas, which is a violation of international law. Amnesty International said it now plans to “re-assess” its report in response to a massive public outcry after its publication.

The Gray Zone also interviewed a former U.S. military member, who goes by the moniker “Benjamin Velcro”, who was a volunteer fighter for the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine, the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ official unit for foreign volunteers.

He spent five months in various parts of Ukraine, and says that soldiers being stationed in civilian areas was a common occurrence: “Whenever I hear that Russia bombed a school, I just kinda shrug. Because I garrisoned inside a school. That’s a fact. The school didn’t have kids in it, so it’s not like they were endangering children. So all it takes is for Ukraine to say, ‘Ah! They hit a school!’ And that cumulates into an easy media narrative on their part.”

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