‘Corruption fuelling Russia-Ukraine war’

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BY MIRIAM MANGWAYA
CORRUPTION has been cited as one of the factors fuelling the Russia-Ukraine war, with Russian President Vladimir Putin being influenced by oligarchs closer to him to fight the former colony for personal gain.

Last month, Russia launched an all-out invasion of Ukraine by land, air and sea, the biggest attack by one State against another in Europe since World War II after Russian President Vladimir Putin  had approved a “special military operation”.

Addressing journalists at the US anti-corruption efforts Virtual Reporting Tour (VRT) last Friday, Barry Fullerton of the Office of Global Programmes and Policy, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs said Putin was captured by oligarchs seeking to enrich themselves from the conflict.

Fullerton was speaking at the sixth VRT briefing under the topic, Preserving and Strengthening the Multilateral Anticorruption Architecture and Improving Diplomatic Engagement and Leveraging Foreign Assistance Resources to Achieve Policy Goals.

“The (US) administration, as you see from President (Joe) Biden, and Secretary of State (Anthony) Blinken, and Brussels, we continue to rally our allies and partners to impose swift and severe consequences for the criminals’ actions,” Fullerton said.

“I’m sure you have seen our announcements in the past week of the new taskforces dealing with kleptocracy and Russian kleptocrats specifically, as well as the financial sanctions and visa restrictions we have imposed. Corruption has played a very important role in fuelling this conflict. It is well documented that Putin and the Kremlin run a kleptocratic regime enabled by corrupt oligarchs.”

He said kleptocracy was a threat to global stability, hence the US move to strengthen international anti-corruption standards and advance diplomatic engagement, to leverage foreign assistance.

The US is also fighting corruption through the United States Agency for International Development (USAid) which supports public institutions and governance processes in various countries across the globe.

USAid anti-corruption taskforce deputy director Jennifer Lewis said the scale of corruption was increasing as corrupt actors were able to access international networks of illicit finances, crime and exploitation.

“While anti-corruption is not new to USAid, in line with the new elevation of anti-corruption as a foreign policy priority, we are taking some concrete steps to intensify and enhance our programming and our policy engagement around the world and this means some adaptation for us as an agency,” Lewis said.

“One such adaptation is to increase our focus on the cross-border dimension of corruption and its enablers, drivers and facilitators. And this is really an acknowledgment, that the scope and the scale of corruption has changed dramatically over the past decade, much as our own world has, while systemic corruption remains a pervasive challenge in countries around the world.”

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