top of page

United States Funding the Vacations of Ukrainian Oligarchs

Travis Cunha

Dec 2, 2022

As temperatures drop across Europe, Ukrainians in black-out-induced areas are being told by their government that they have only themselves to blame should the energy difficulties continue. Freezing temperatures are expected to plunge down further, yet Ukrainian president  Volodymyr Zelenskyy advised his citizens, “If consumption increases in the evening, the number of outages may increase…This once again shows how important it is now to save power and consume it rationally.” Zelenskyy claims Ukraine has built over 4,000 “invincibility shelters” to help people endure the winter (yet to be seen or photographed), an unimpressive feat given the United States alone has sent over $100 billion dollars to Ukraine, ramping up its military budget to fund the conflict.

It is ironic that Zelenskyy is asking his citizens to bear the brunt of the ongoing conflict and not seeking more support from the Ukrainian elites who have fled the country in droves since February and continue to prosper. Even before Russia launched its Special Military Operation (SMO) to end the barbaric shelling of civilians in the Donbass, private jets across Ukraine were already departing with some wealthy backers of Kiev's coup government alongside their families and close associates. The pro-Kiev media outlet Ukrainska Pravda released a short film spotlighting Ukraine's so-called “Monaco Battalion,” a group of elite men otherwise “fit for service” who instead spend their time gallivanting around the French Riviera on yachts. While the conflict ensues and men under 60 years old are forced to stay and fight, men like Kharkov entrepreneurs Alexander Yaroslavsky and Konstantin Zhevago continue to enjoy a life of luxury. The Mediterranean coast of France was not the only destination for this exodus of the fleeing Ukrainian elite. The list of the countries for their destinations is extensive; some have even formed whole expat neighborhoods in places like Cap Ferrat, the former palace owned by Belgium’s King Leopold II. Not even western mainstream media can hide this corrupt and blatant double standard, fueled by the large amounts of aid going to Ukraine.

CBS news released its own documentary on the ongoing conflict. In it, US Marine Corps veteran Andy Milburn speaks on how aid is not getting where it is supposed to go. “I can tell you unarguably that on the frontline units these things are not getting there. Drones, Switchblades, IFAKs. They’re not, alright. Body armor, helmets, you name it.” His comments echo another recent interview by the Grayzone of a soldier fighting on the Ukrainian side, who said, “Imagine telling an American soldier that we are using our personal cars in the war, and we’re also responsible for paying for repairs and fuel. We’re buying our own body armor and helmets. We don’t have observation tools or cameras, so soldiers have to pop their heads out to see what’s coming, which means at any moment, a rocket or tank can tear their heads off.” However, this fact comes as no surprise to those who have tracked Ukraine's government following the Maidan coup d'état in 2014. Before Zelenskyy and Ukraine were the darlings of Western media, the country was rightly considered one of the most corrupt countries in Europe. In a 2015 interview regarding the funding of his hospital, consultant anesthetist Konstantin Sidorenko said, “Presumably there is money at the institute, but for some reason that money doesn’t reach the most important places, like intensive care. So it means we have to earn everything ourselves.” It is clear that government corruption funneling funds into the pockets of Ukrainian elites was an ongoing problem that started well before the Russian SMO.

American civilians continue to struggle with high inflation, failing infrastructure, and underfunded social programs, all while the US government remains fixated on starting and waging wars abroad. Whether or not the Biden administration is aware of or even cares about the mishandling of funds, the money it continues to squander could so obviously be put to better use, in innumerable ways. The recent midterm elections caused Zelenskyy and Ukraine to consider the possibility that it could become more difficult so secure endless "aid" from the United States. It was also reported that even Joe Biden has grown frustrated with the badgering requests for more money and arms to Ukraine. Is it possible that rampant corruption is finally catching up with Zelenskyy and the authorities in Kiev? With increased Republican representation after the midterms and growing annoyance on the part of Biden, 2023 may make life more complicated for those who have spent this conflict vacationing on the United States’ dollar.

bottom of page