Ukraine’s Acting Defense Minister Mykhailo Koval has acknowledged the presence of financial embezzlement in the framework of preparation for the antiterrorist operation [ATO]. He stated this during his report in Parliament, where he was summoned by Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov upon the demand of the All-Ukrainian Union’s Svoboda faction.
In Parliament, the deputies informed Koval that soldiers’ mothers were telling them terrible things. “Children are being fed canned stewed meat with worms in it!” Batkivschyna parliamentary faction deputy Oleksandra Kuzhel said from her seat.
Former Defense Minister and ex-Party of Regions deputy Oleksandr Kuzmuk reported that within the framework of ATO, the military is not being provided with basic necessities: helmets, body armor vests, not to mention the low wages. The right of rotation is being violated; the soldiers called up for duty have been serving for three months now.
In response, Koval admitted that there has been financial embezzlement in preparation for the ATO. “Regarding military funding, it is received promptly. There are abuses, but we are keeping the situation under control. Yesterday, I was forced to order the removal of certain executive officers who were in charge of the armed forces’ support, and the transfer of their personal files to the public prosecutor’s office,” the Minister reported.
He also noted that there would be no rotation. “I declare that there will be no rotation! We do not have any available people left! We have employed all of our soldiers. They are standing on the borders, so there will be no rotation within the ATO whatsoever.”
Koval also confirmed information provided by the deputies with respect to food supply issues in the army. “Early in the ATO the food service was, in fact, eliminated. The provision of food supplies has been organized and maintained by people who have never done it before.”
In response, Speaker Oleksandr Turchynov instructed the Cabinet of Ministers to prepare a document to double the funding for the army’s food provision, as well as increase military wages. The Speaker promised that all ATO participants would receive combatant status.
Minister Koval also assured that all military are receiving that status, regardless of the fact that “the ATO military are included and execute such orders by secret decrees”: “The orders state that they are located on the training grounds, but this is simply a technicality. All of them will be considered combatants.”
Translated by Katherina Smirnova, edited by Robin Rohrback