Suddenly it's not so TOOL OF PUTIN-ish to notice some Ukrainians getting very rich

Sarah Silbiger, Pool via AP

Well, knock ME over with a feather! It wasn’t that long ago that one of Tucker Carlson’s biggest failings – I mean hammer him unmercifully complaints – was that he was a TOOL OF PUTIN for having the temerity to question where billions upon billions upon billions of U.S. taxpayers dollars were going in relation to the spigot of cash headed to Zelensky and Ukraine.

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“How DARE you?!” they cried. “Democracy is UNDER ATTACK – We must DEFEND IT AT ALL COST!!” And when he pretty rightfully asked were we defending democracy or enriching a dictator and his oligarch friends in the meantime, the sputtered indignation at his treacherous query knew no bounds. Why should there be any sort of accounting for so noble a cause? I mean, look – Zelensky lives in fatigue trousers and wooly pully sweaters – he’s practically a war hero himself! Of course those billions and bazillions are in the best and purest of trustworthy hands.

If they stayed in those hands. But no one could tell anyone if they did. And you sure as Schlitz weren’t allowed to ask, you spreader of Russian propaganda!!

A year ago May, Kentucky’s Senator Rand Paul was pilloried in the press and by both parties for putting the brakes on one of the first big aid packages to Ukraine, for simply wanting an accounting method designated to track where the billions were going. He “defied” leaders.

Rand Paul stalls Senate passage of $40 billion in Ukraine aid

Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul defied leaders of both parties Thursday and delayed until next week Senate approval of an additional $40 billion to help Ukraine and its allies withstand Russia’s three-month old invasion.

…Paul, a libertarian who often opposes U.S. intervention abroad, said he wanted language inserted into the bill, without a vote, that would have an inspector general scrutinize the new spending. He has a long history of demanding last-minute changes by holding up or threatening to delay bills on the brink of passage, including measures dealing with lynching, sanctioning Russia, preventing a federal shutdown, the defense budget, government surveillance and providing health care to the Sept. 11 attack first responders.

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You can tell what a crank they think he is by the litany of complaints in the paragraph.

NO TIME FOR ACCOUNTING – DEMOCRACY IS AT STAKE!

The November elections changed the tenor of that argument a bit, especially as our ugly fiscal situation started coming into focus. The House GOP was a tad more inclined to be on board with parsing the Ukrainian purse, whilst still supporting the outlays.

…Though congressional leaders generally support continued aid to Ukraine, some have been careful in their assessments of ongoing oversight efforts.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed, D-R.I., said “we can always do more” when it comes to tracking the aid being sent overseas. But so far, he added, the Pentagon has been regularly reporting on the progress of Ukraine aid to Congress.

Ranking member Roger Wicker, R-Miss., said the oversight provisions already in place are “probably adequate.”

But, he said, “We are very mindful that the American people want their generous contributions to be well spent. And I do think that’s in the national interest.”

Dude – we’re talking tens of billions. I don’t want “probably adequate.” In no way is that going to cut it. Look at what we lost HERE during COVID or any natural disaster when they hand out FEMA debit cards. I mean, come on – this is all going overseas to Corruption Central to begin with.

Adequate. ‘Tis to laugh.

When there are – just the other day – even more miraculous (!!!) billions of dollars found that can be sent to Ukraine?

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The Pentagon has overestimated the value of the weapons it has sent to Ukraine by at least $3 billion — an accounting error that could be a boon for the war effort because it will allow the Defense Department to send more weapons now without asking Congress for more money.

The acknowledgment Thursday comes at a time when Pentagon is under increased pressure by Congress to show accountability for the billions of dollars it has sent in weapons, ammunition and equipment to Ukraine and as some lawmakers question whether that level of support should continue.

LAY YOUR HAND ON THE DASHBOARD AND SAY ‘HALLELUJAH’

Amazing. Billions were never “oopsed” and found when I was counting literal gallons of JP-5 for missions at the end of a Marine Corps fiscal year. That Zelensky must sail under a lucky star, no?

Turns out, maybe his friends do, too. Or at least they’re lucky enough to be navigating by Zelensky’s star power.

Well, how about that? Color me shocked this made it into Politico, of all places. It makes me think it’s pretty blatant, whatever is going on and it’s probably pretty bad.

One woman, trying to get answers and save her company, “Smart Holding” (formerly owned by a sanctioned Russian named Novynski), told her story. There were some havey cavey goings-on with official records that had no explanation.

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..According to Kiryanova, however, Novynskyi’s activities should be irrelevant to Smart Holding. He hasn’t been involved in managing the company since 2013, and last year, he divested himself of ownership. He receives no income from the company and can never resume ownership, she said.

…Informally, the company was told authorities believed Novynskyi was still the beneficial owner but was offered no evidence. Authorities also said a criminal case was being opened against the trustees on suspicion of being Russian agents.

“This was followed by a series of police raids at our head office and our subsidiaries,” Kiryanova explained. Ukraine’s security services seized $96 million in assets, and the deeds to 40 companies and 30 natural gas wells. “The property of pro-Russian oligarch Vadym Novynskyi, who is involved in aiding the aggressor country, was seized,” the SBU announced in a statement. Smart Holding has donated more than $20 million to war-related humanitarian causes.

Then came the offer-too-good-to-refuse.

…Yet, hours before the raids, the company was approached with a fire-sale buyout offer for its natural gas interests from foreign investors — British and American — who have no history in the energy sector. They said they’d face no problems, as “they would be able to resolve any issues with the office of Ukraine’s President.” The offer — a third of what the businesses are worth — was declined. So far, the company has had to layoff 3,000 staff members, and it now fears that Metinvest — which has about 60,000 employees and is majority owned by Ukraine’s richest person, Rinat Akhmetov — could be next.

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Ladies and germs, that’s nothing but an old-timey shakedown.

There are more stories.

…Meanwhile, Maxym Liashko, the co-CEO of Parimatch, is equally perplexed as to why his business has been targeted. Founded in 1994 in Kyiv and now headquartered in Cyprus, the company operates under licenses issued by local regulators in Ukraine, Central Asia, Africa, the Indian subcontinent, the United Kingdom — and, until recently, in Russia and Belarus, but it immediately withdrew from those markets when Ukraine was invaded, ending franchise agreements and losing millions of dollars.

There’s also the pretty inevitable conclusion to be reached.

…Makaruk worries an internal commercial war is being waged in Ukraine, affecting everything from agri-business to the country’s well-respected IT sector — and he’s not alone. As one corporate executive told POLITICO: “When the country and people need unity the most, some of the very powerful are using the cloud of war to rape businesses.”

Speaking on condition of anonymity due to fear of retaliation, the executive added:

No previous administration has accumulated so much power — basically unlimited power — and because of the war, it is untouchable in the eyes of the international community and the media.”

“Speaking out publicly is difficult because I don’t want to say anything that might endanger the war effort, but sanctioning successful companies shouldn’t be done to clear out competitors or punish somebody you don’t like,” he said.

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Zelensky, that Democratic freedom fighter, is clearing the deck and consolidating power. And, truth be told as demonstrated repeatedly in the media, on social media and the halls of Congress, he is untouchable.

Be it St. Volodymyr himself, who has his own whiff of U.S. taxpayer funded grift swirling around him…

The Ukraine government, headed by Volodymyr Zelensky, has been using American taxpayers’ funds to pay dearly for the vitally needed diesel fuel that is keeping the Ukrainian army on the move in its war with Russia. It is unknown how much the Zelensky government is paying per gallon for the fuel, but the Pentagon was paying as much as $400 per gallon to transport gasoline from a port in Pakistan, via truck or parachute, into Afghanistan during the decades-long American war there.

What also is unknown is that Zelensky has been buying the fuel from Russia, the country with which it, and Washington, are at war, and the Ukrainian president and many in his entourage have been skimming untold millions from the American dollars earmarked for diesel fuel payments. One estimate by analysts from the Central Intelligence Agency put the embezzled funds at $400 million last year, at least; another expert compared the level of corruption in Kiev as approaching that of the Afghan war, “although there will be no professional audit reports emerging from the Ukraine.”

“Zelensky’s been buying discount diesel from the Russians,” one knowledgeable American intelligence official told me. “And who’s paying for the gas and oil? We are. Putin and his oligarchs are making millions” on it.

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…or his buddies, the adage “In chaos there is profit” is followed by “and power.”

And all on our dime.

I hope this means it’s okay to ask about it now.

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David Strom 3:30 PM | June 20, 2024
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