Home News Reconstruction official resigns, highlighting tensions in Ukraine

Reconstruction official resigns, highlighting tensions in Ukraine


A Ukrainian official who has long championed anti-corruption resigned on Monday from the government agency overseeing the country’s Western-funded reconstruction efforts, citing mismanagement of funds. His departure highlights tensions within President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s government over the distribution of wartime aid.

The official, Mustafa Naim, a former head of Ukraine’s State Reconstruction Service, has not accused any direct corruption. But his allegations of abuse of power and mismanagement could hamper government efforts Alleviate concerns of the United States and other allies Providing billions of dollars in aid to Ukraine’s war effort.

He is the second senior official involved in Ukraine’s reconstruction efforts to leave in the past month, following the dismissal in May of Infrastructure Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov, whose ministry oversaw the agency headed by Mr. Naim.

In Kiev political circles, Kubrakov is seen as aligned with the United States on reconstruction aid spending priorities — a stance that has angered other government leaders who resent U.S. meddling in their affairs. Both Kubrakov and Naim have spoken out against bribery in the construction industry.

Ukraine’s reconstruction agency was created during the war to streamline and secure funding for reconstruction, which is expected to eventually receive tens of billions of dollars in foreign aid given the scale of the war’s destruction. Ukraine and some allies are pushing to seize Russian assets to finance the effort.

Preventing abuse has long been a priority for U.S. policymakers, a concern raised by lawmakers earlier this year as they debated a $61 billion military and financial aid package that would eventually Approved in late April.

The reconstruction agency led by Naim oversaw a budget of 100 billion hryvnias (Ukrainian currency), or about $2.5 billion, last year, which, like most of Ukraine’s non-military spending, was funded primarily by foreign aid.

The agency’s projects are wide-ranging. The agency has funded the construction of physical barriers to protect vulnerable electrical equipment at power plants in case air defenses fail to protect the sites. The agency has also repaired water pipes, bridges and roads.

In a phone interview and in a resignation letter posted on Facebook, Naim did not cite specific cases of corruption. Instead, he cited a series of bureaucratic obstacles that hampered the agency’s work, delaying project approvals and payments to contractors. He said agency employees’ salaries had been cut, a move he called an effort to undermine the organization’s work.

“Since November last year, the agency team has faced constant confrontation, resistance, and human obstacles,” he wrote in a Facebook post.

Zelenskiy’s office did not immediately respond to inquiries about the resignation or Naim’s allegations of mismanagement.

Mr Naim said despite the setbacks, most projects were completed.

Last fall, Mr. Naim reported two members of parliament to the anti-corruption department. Allegations They had attempted to pay bribes. These cases are currently being tried in court.

Foreign aid has been a thorny issue in Ukraine since before the war, and Ukrainian leaders have objected to Western efforts to use aid to guide personnel policy or support government reforms that threaten established interests.

Mr Naim said bureaucratic delays seemed intended to put the work of rebuilding the institution on the back burner.

“Transparency and predictability on this issue are critical because the money comes from taxpayers,” Naim said in an interview. “Our biggest asset right now is trust. And now, those who tried to make the system transparent and accountable have to leave.”

Naim’s resignation came at an awkward time, as it came a day before a major reconstruction donor conference in Berlin. Ukrainian authorities excluded him from the delegation, disrupting a meeting he had scheduled with foreign officials on donations for Ukraine’s reconstruction.

By Monday evening, Mr. Naim and the government were in public disagreement over why he had been excluded from the delegation. Government officials told Ukrainian media that the prime minister had arranged a meeting with Mr. Naim on Wednesday, while Mr. Naim said he had never received such an invitation.

Despite the urgent need to repair damaged power plants, roads, bridges and water facilities Damaged by Russian missile attackNaim said in an interview that contractors had not been paid for months. He said some projects were stalled because of unpaid bills.

The agency had financed some military defense projects in the northeastern Sumy region of Ukraine and the Donetsk region of eastern Ukraine. In a letter explaining his resignation, Nayem wrote that payments for those and other contracts “had been delayed for months.”

“All of this has had a negative impact on the nation’s defense capabilities,” he wrote.

He said completed projects included building protective barriers around 103 power equipment to protect the machines from shrapnel. He said the barriers helped protect three areas from missile attacks and allowed engineers to restore power more quickly.

Some setbacks are inevitable because of the intricacies of government permits and dealings with construction companies needed to repair war damage, said Tymofiy Mylovanov, a former Ukrainian economy minister. “It’s a wartime environment, so not everything goes smoothly. You’re troubleshooting all the time.”

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