Hunter Biden’s involvement in corrupt dealings with the Ukrainian gas firm Burisma brings the corruption in Ukraine into focus. Rumors that Joe Biden and Hunter Biden received $5 million bribes apiece from Burisma founder Mykola Zlochevsky with the intent of buying their backing to oust Ukrainian Prosecutor General Viktor Shokin offer a reminder of this corruption.
Burisma seems unrelated to the war in Ukraine, but is it?
Hunter Biden A Reminder of Ukrainian Corruption
It plays into the hands of congressional opponents of the Biden administration’s continuing effort to finance Ukraine’s war against Russia.
Over $100 billion has been spent by the U.S. thus far since the war began in February 2022.
Americans want to know they are paying for something worthwhile. Up until this point, neither the U.S., NATO, nor Ukraine have devised a winning strategy to decisively defeat Vladimir Putin. The sausage grinder approach that wastes lives and dollars has undermined confidence in American involvement.
Former European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker recently slammed Ukraine as a corrupt nation. Since January, the Ukrainian government has been plagued by corruption scandals. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky fired his defense minister last month following corruption allegations.
Ukraine’s army reportedly bought food at inflated prices and corruption was alleged when it came to body armor purchases for the military.
“People believe in and [are] encouraging the exposing of corruption even during wartime. People have very low tolerance to corruption. People see Ukraine as an EU and NATO member — and this is what we’re fighting for,” Daria Kaleniuk, the executive director of the Anti-Corruption Action Center in Ukraine, told Vox.
A burgeoning black market in stolen Western weapons provided to Ukraine has emerged. The U.S. Defense Department has struggled to track weapons as is required under the Arms Export Control Act.
Anti-War Sentiment Takes Over Washington
With the ouster of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy by GOP spending hawks, how the war will progress going forward remains a question. The Trump wing of the GOP remains staunchly isolationist and is unwilling to fight “endless wars,” a refrain stemming from angst in the wake of decades of failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Americans are war-weary, and no amount of Neo-McCarthyism accusing opponents of being “Putin’s puppets” can change that.
Joe Biden has sought to keep Ukraine in the loop about what could happen with a GOP Congress. He sent CIA Director William Burns to Kyiv in January in a bid to keep Zelensky up to date.
“Top of mind for Zelensky and his senior intelligence officials during the meeting,” said the Washington Post, “was how long Ukraine could expect U.S. and Western assistance to continue following Republicans’ takeover of the House and a drop-off in support of Ukraine aid among parts of the U.S. electorate.”
Perceptions of Corruption Undermine Ukraine
At the same time, allegations of corruption on Biden’s part and that of his family threatens to upend the political dynamic in Washington. Biden is a weak candidate running for re-election against his predecessor Donald Trump, who has openly stated his desire to settle the war with Russia in a manner that runs far short of total victory for Ukraine.
The clock is ticking for Ukraine to clean up its corruption and to put a plan in place for decisive victory. Skepticism about Ukraine in the U.S. means that Europe, whose security is directly threatened by Russia, will need to increase its investment in its eastern neighbor.
Corruption and perceptions of corruption on both sides of the Atlantic pose the biggest threat to Ukraine’s ability to stay in the fight and win. Americans always turn against wars when they don’t see a way to win and feel resources are being wasted. That was true in Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and now in Ukraine, which is viewed as a proxy war that millions of Americans want no part in.
Most Americans will not support war with Russia for any reason short of Russian Marines or paratroopers invading Alaska.
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.