Mon, 25 Sep 2023

The first European Union-Ukraine summit since the start of the Russian invasion takes place on 3 February in Kyiv. EU accession, Russia's invasion, post-war reconstruction, food security and accountability are among the topics to be discussed.

Topping the agenda at the Kyiv meeting will be Ukraine's ambition to join the EU.

Four days after Russia invaded Ukraine, on 28 February last year, Kyiv applied for EU membership. Ukraine was granted EU candidate status on 23 June 2022.

Becoming a full EU member requires a long period as a candidate country. Potential members have to show that they meet strict standards in a set of 35 "chapters" ranging from movement of goods and human rights to taxation, public procurement and finance.

According to Transparency International's corruption perception index 2022, Ukraine is Europe's most corrupt country, and is in 33rd position worldwide, just ahead of Niger, Kenya and the Dominican Republic.

Military support

Probably the most important topic to be discussed are contributions by the EU's European Peace Facility, which includes aid worth more than €3.6 billion, and the functioning of the EU Military Assistance Mission, which was created on 17 October 2022 to "enhance the military capability of the Ukrainian Armed Forces."

The EU Council estimates overall EU military support to Ukraine at "close to €12 billion."

Earlier this week, French Defence Minister Sebastien Lecornu said France will send another 12 Caesar truck-mounted howitzers to Ukraine.

And Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said "a dozen" countries had "promised more than 100 tanks" after Germany and the US promised deliveries last month. The weapons include German Leopard 2, British Challenger 2, and US M1 Abrams tanks.

The massive influx of artiliary into Ukraine worries some.

Last November, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari claimed that weapons from the Ukraine-Russia war are showing up in the Lake Chad Basin, where, he says, they're helping terrorist groups and making chronic security problems worse.

Buhari's claim, however, remains unsubstantiated. There have been no public reports of arms from the eastern European conflict reaching the Lake Chad Basin. Nor did Buhari provide any evidence to back up his assertion.

In December, the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Izumi Nakamitsu, said that "the large-scale influx of weapons into any armed conflict raises many concerns for peace and security, including risks of diversion, potential spillover and escalation."

Organisations monitoring arms trade are not actively looking into the question of where western arms shipped to Ukraine end up. Drew Sullivan, editor of the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project told RFI in an email that, although the organisation is "not updated enough to comment" he is "not aware of any significant leakages."

Wendela de Vries of Amsterdam based arms trade monitor Stop de Wapenhandel said that current reports on illegal re-export of arms from Ukraine are "unsolid" but expressed her worry about "the massive flow of arms into a country known for its arms smuggling networks and the destabilising effect this might have in other parts of the world."

Meanwhile, in its 2022 report on anti-corruption reforms in Ukraine, the Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD,) while commending certain improvements proposed by Ukraine's Interior Ministry, says that high-level corruption in Ukraine "remains widespread and the effectiveness of combatting it is being continually undermined ... the investigation, prosecution and adjudication of high-level corruption cases is subject to heavy political or other undue interference."

Government shakeup

Possibly influenced by Western criticism, Ukraine's President, Volodimyr Zelensky, who was elected in 2019 on an anti-corruption platform, in January fired several senior Ukrainian officials after a massive corruption scandal.

The purge constituted Ukraine's biggest government shake-up since the war began and coincided with Washington contemplating the transfer of Abrams tanks to Ukraine's army.

Officials in several countries, including the United States, which according to the Council of Foreign Relations has directed $50 billion in support (military as well as humanitarian) to Ukraine since the beginning of the war, are demanding more accountability for the aid.

On Wednesday, two days before the EU-Ukraine summit, Kyiv's Internal Security Service SSU extended the clampdown on corruption, carrying out coordinated searches of residences belonging to high level businessmen and officials.

In a reaction to Kyiv's anti-corruption efforts, EU leader Ursula von der Leyen on Thursday praised Ukraine's efforts to stamp out graft.

"I'm comforted to see that your anti-corruption bodies are on alert and effective in detecting corruption cases," she told a press conference with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

"I also commend you on reacting so rapidly at the political level to make sure that the fight against corruption is delivering tangible results and is further stepped up," she added.

Originally published on RFI

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