KYIV, Ukraine - Billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars have been poured into Ukraine. That fact has many Americans concerned about where all that money is going.
CBN News Contributing Correspondent Chuck Holton went to Kyiv to find out if their contributions really are making a difference.
Since the beginning of March, the U.S. has pledged close to $70 billion in military and humanitarian aid to Ukraine to help it defend against Russia’s unprovoked attack. While that might sound like a lot, much of it is slated to be spent in future years, all the way out to 2030.
“There’s a lag between the time Congress appropriates funds and the time when those funds actually get spent," said Mark Cancian, Col. USMC (ret.), a senior advisor with the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "Up until September 30th, that totaled about $8 billion that had been spent of the total $68 billion that had been appropriated.”
Holton traveled to the front lines to see where all this American aid is going. His escort was Andrew Gota, one of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s advisors.
"We want to be open and transparent," Gota explained. "So we are ready for any controls. Any extra controls, for any special officers that can come to us to check the situation."
Gota regularly travels to gauge what’s needed on the front line. Then he approaches charities in the U.S. that can help.
"I should fill some application. What do I need exactly, how much, and for whom. Who is the end user? After the USA approved my requests, we have another level of control on the border," he told CBN News. "Our customs and border protection service will check the documents."
"So we have multilevel control even of the humanitarian aid. You can imagine what kind of control we have for the heavy weapons," Gota added.
"I’ve been reporting on this conflict since three weeks before the war actually started," Holton said. "And in that time I’ve learned something about the Ukrainian people. They are fiercely patriotic, but also understand that this war isn’t just about Ukraine and Russia. For that reason, they don’t think of the aid they are getting from the West as a handout. They think of it as a partnership."
"It's not a charity to support Ukraine. We are not asking (for) this money. We are trying to protect freedom, democracy of all (the) civilized world," explained Ukrainian Finance Minister Serhiy Marchenko. "I think that the problem which Russia created for all the civilized world and the price which other countries pay to support Ukraine is incomparable. To cure this disease is to help Ukraine to win this war.”
So far, there has been scant evidence of corruption in the process.
“We don’t see much, some weapon in the black market for example," Gota noted. "Because everyone wants to win. Everyone wants to fight with the enemy.”
The military assistance Ukraine received is making the difference between success and failure on the battlefield, especially in the early days of the conflict.
“This American aid, 155 millimeters, 155 calibers, saved Kyiv, that’s true," Gota said. "If we got some aid from the USA or from some other country, of course, we spread it immediately to the front lines."
Ukrainian soldiers often ask Gota whether the U.S. will abandon them and bring up Afghanistan. They're concerned that if support ended now, Ukraine’s recent victories could quickly be reversed and the people’s suffering multiplied.
"I think that the situation is a challenge because of winter, which is already in Ukraine. It's already freezing temperatures," U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Bridget Brink told CBN News.
"So in response to that, the United States is going to continue to do everything we possibly can, working night and day to provide help on winterization needs to provide as much air defense and other security assistance as possible, and to also help Ukraine repair its energy infrastructure so people aren't in the cold and dark and without water," Brink continued.
Either way, Ukrainians are committed to fighting to the end.
“We don’t stop. We never stop. Winter, summer, spring, autumn, fall. We don’t stop. We will fight every day, every hour, at night, and during the day," Gota said.
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