Parliament summons Defense Ministry leadership following corruption allegations

Ukraine’s parliamentary committee on national security, defense, and intelligence summons top officials of the Defense Ministry to address journalists’ allegations that the ministry is buying food for the army at inflated prices.

Ukrainian newspaper Zn.Ua reported on Jan. 21 that the Defense Ministry purchased food for the military at prices two to three times higher than it is sold at Kyiv grocery stores.

This indicates a possible corruption scheme, according to Zn.Ua. The Defense Ministry has not provided any comments yet.

The ministry allegedly signed an Hr 13.16 billion ($360 million) contract for food purchases in 2023, Zn.Ua reported.

“Regarding purchases by the Ministry of Defense, such inflated prices are not only for food,” lawmaker Mariana Bezuhla, deputy head of the parliament's national security committee, said on Facebook.

According to Bezuhla, who represents the governing Servant of the People faction, Ukraine’s State Audit Service and law enforcement are looking into Defense Ministry's spending.

“We are expecting loud conclusions,” she said.

Bezuhla praised Defense Ministry for doing a lot amid the war, however, said that mistakes and possible corruption shouldn’t be overlooked.

Mykhailo Podolyak, an advisor to the head of the President’s Office, confirmed that the audit is underway.

“If the allegations confirm, we should find those who signed this contract for Hr 13 billion, conduct an investigation and then make these people accountable,” Podolyak said in a televised statement.

On Jan. 21, Zn.Ua reported that it had obtained a 2023 Defense Ministry contract for food procurement from its sources in the military.

The newspaper says the contract for a total of Hr 13.16 billion was signed on Dec. 23 and envisages food deliveries to Ukrainian soldiers stationed in Poltava, Sumy, Kyiv, Zhytomyr, Chernihiv, and Cherkasy oblasts.

The contract does not stipulate food supply to the front-line areas where “the delivery alone can make any purchase more expensive,” Zn.Ua said.

According to the report, the Defense Ministry agreed to pay Hr 17 for one egg, while its price at one of the capital’s stores is about Hr 7.