Inspectors general overseeing aid to Ukraine face lawmakers

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“A simple check of social media accounts of foreign travelers and visa applicants will help ensure that those who have participated in, pledged allegiance to, or communicated with terrorist organizations cannot enter the United States,” Rep. Michael McCaul said in a statement. (AP Photo)

Inspectors general overseeing aid to Ukraine face lawmakers

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The trio of inspectors general tasked with overseeing U.S. aid to Ukraine appeared on Capitol Hill Wednesday to face lawmakers.

Robert Storch, the inspector general for the Department of Defense; Diana Shaw, the deputy inspector general for the State Department; and Nicole Angarella, the acting deputy inspector general for USAID, provided testimony in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. The group has been tasked with identifying waste, fraud, and abuse as it relates to the $113 billion appropriated by the U.S. government for Ukraine since Russia’s February 2022 invasion.

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The inspectors general have not uncovered any illicit diversion of U.S. weapons or aid, though they’ve received roughly 175 tips of alleged malfeasance.

“While I cannot, of course, comment on any ongoing investigation, based on our completed work, we have not substantiated any instances of the diversion of U.S. security assistance to Ukraine,” Storch said, while Angarella noted her office has received a 556% increase in reports from the previous 11 month period, though she attributed the uptick to the increased efforts to make reporting such claims easier.

The inspectors general said they want their personnel to establish a persistent presence in Kyiv, which Angarella said they are “actively pursuing,” though it’s a State Department process that’s underway.

“We are to date able to produce the oversight that we need to. We’ve been creative, we’ve used some remote technologies,” Shaw added. “We’ve also engaged with people as they’ve cycled out of Ukraine into Poland. But we are looking to secure positions in Kyiv. That will be hugely helpful especially for our future work. I don’t have an opinion yet on the staffing levels at the embassy.”

Chairman Michael McCaul (R-TX) has been a proponent of providing significant military aid for Ukraine, going as far as to accuse the Biden administration of not giving them everything they need to fend off the Russian aggression. But, the hearing, at least in part, offered an opportunity for others in his party who are more skeptical of continuing aid to hear from those in charge of overseeing it.

“Additionally, Congress has also provided a significant amount of assistance to Ukraine to ensure [President Vladimir] Putin’s aggression is stopped at Ukraine’s border — and that a NATO ally is not next. I have supported U.S. assistance because a victory by Putin in Ukraine would further embolden America’s adversaries, from Chairman Xi in Beijing to the Ayatollah in Tehran to Kim Jong Un in North Korea,” McCaul said. “When Republicans took the majority, we made it very clear that accountability will be paramount to continued assistance in Ukraine. This is just the first of many hearings and briefings I will hold to ensure the assistance we are providing Ukraine is being used as intended.”

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McCaul has been one of the few Republicans who has urged the Biden administration to provide Ukraine with F-16 fighter aircraft and long-range missile fires, which President Joe Biden has refused to do thus far. Biden has repeatedly given them specific systems that he had previously denied, however.

A day prior to their testimony on Capitol Hill, the Senate rejected an amendment to legislation that would’ve established a new Office of the Inspector General for Ukraine Assistance.

© 2023 Washington Examiner

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