Ukrainian Foreign Ministry denounces ‘cynical’ allegations by Representative Victoria Spartz
For the most part, Ukrainian officials have bitten their tongues when it comes to criticizing their country and its officials from the margins of American politics. But Sparta’s posturing has clearly angered the Ukrainian government, with Nikolenko noting in his statement that Ukraine is « deeply grateful » to Congress as well as Biden personally for the billions of dollars in military and humanitarian aid the United States has been providing. have provided since the beginning of the war.
Nikolenko accused Spartz of trying to « bring back into American politics the classic Russian propaganda narratives of the Ukrainian leadership’s apparent ties to Russia and dragging our state into American domestic politics. » He also pushed back on his claims that there is not enough oversight of the unprecedented arms transfer to Ukraine.
Ukrainians have largely put their domestic political battles on the back burner, stressing the need for unity as they repel Russian invaders. But Spartz’s allegations have caught the attention of Zelenskyy’s political opponents, namely members of former President Petro Poroshenko’s European Solidarity opposition party.
« All of this is very serious, because such letters do not come out of Congress without serious suspicions, » he added. tweeted Volodymyr ArievMP from Poroshenko’s party.
“The morning started well. I like it », Borislav Bereza, former deputy, wrote in a tweet about Spartz’s letter which was widely shared on social media. In another Facebook post, he denounced Nikolenko, calling him « crazy » over the Foreign Ministry’s response.
« Such a statement by the Foreign Ministry spokesperson is an attempt to show loyalty to Yermak and Tatarov, as well as to lick their ass, » he wrote.
Nikolenko suggested in his statement that the Ukrainian government sees Sparta’s recent comments as an effort to reignite those national squabbles, and said his criticisms are undermining the current flow of U.S. aid to Ukraine.
« The Ukrainian side interacts with American partners as openly as possible, providing them with full information on the use of equipment, » Nikolenko added. “Further bureaucratization and prolonging the process, which Victoria Sparta obviously wants, will only contribute to the further advance of the Russian invaders. The Kremlin is counting on such a scenario.
Ukraine’s presidential office declined to comment. Yermak and representatives of Spartz did not respond to requests for comment.
Spartz, 43, has visited Ukraine several times since the Russian invasion began in February and has helped educate her colleagues in Congress about the war. But she was also dogged by allegations of a hostile work environment in her Capitol Hill office, where former staffers described to POLITICO a boss who berated and belittled his aides. Its staff retention rate is among the worst in Congress.
Sparta’s allegations are not entirely unfounded. Since being hired by Zelenskyy to head his office in February 2020, Yermak, a former film producer who is now widely considered Ukraine’s second most powerful person after the president, has been accused by political opponents and analysts in Kyiv to have ties with Moscow. While he had business ties to Russia, he denied allegations of being pro-Russian and no evidence emerged of his presence in the Kremlin pocket.
Oleh Tatarov, deputy head of Zelenskyy’s office, is also named by Spartz in his letter. Tatarov, a controversial figure in Kyiv, headed the Interior Ministry’s main investigative department under former President Viktor Yanukovych, who fled to Russia during the Euromaidan revolution in February 2014. The Yanukovych era was marked by large-scale bribery and corruption. who emptied the state coffers. The former leader was found guilty of state treason by a Kyiv court in 2019 and sentenced in absentia to 13 years in prison.
Tatarov, appointed by Zelenskyy in August 2020, was charged in December with bribery by Ukrainian authorities in a case involving state-provided housing for members of the National Guard. Tatarov denied the charges against him.
Anti-corruption activists gathered more than 25,000 signatures in an online petition calling for Tatarov’s firing last year, but Zelenskyy refused to fire him. In January, the Shevchenkivskyi District Court in Kyiv dropped the charges against Tatarov.
Spartz’s concerns about inadequate oversight of U.S. military aid programs have also been echoed in recent weeks by progressives, who fear advanced military weapons and equipment may end up in the wrong hands. Some lawmakers have even suggested they might not support another aid package unless the Biden administration can prove aid is delivered effectively with proper safeguards.
In an interview with POLITICO in Washington last month, a Ukrainian delegation led by David Arakhamia, majority leader in Ukraine’s parliament and a close ally of Zelensky, said Kyiv had never opposed the Biden administration. appoint someone to oversee the billions of dollars in aid pouring into the country. (An effort to do so under the previous Ukraine aid program failed.)
“We actually welcomed that,” he said.