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Op-Ed: Did Congress Put a Bow on Its $45 Billion Gift to Ukraine?

On Dec. 23, Congress passed the more than 4,100-page, $1.7 trillion omnibus spending bill, which I am sure everyone read in great detail before they rushed to vote to get out for Christmas. After all, “War and Peace” is only 1,400-plus pages, so that means this bill is nearly three times longer than “War and Peace,” and everybody runs to read “War and Peace” — three times — right before Christmas vacation. Right? Who knows what all is included in this bill? One of the things we do know is that the bill contains nearly $45 billion in additional aid for Ukraine. What I find surprising and a little perplexing is that the Biden White House had only requested an additional $37 billion for Ukraine in November. So Ukraine is getting $8 billion more than the White House requested. Well, it only gets worse when you try to figure out how much money we have already given to Ukraine. In one article dated Nov. 18, 2022, it was stated that we had given $68 billion to Ukraine, but another article dated Nov. 16 stated that we had given $54 billion. But what is the difference when we are only speaking of $14 billion? Especially among friends. This brings the total U.S. aid to Ukraine to somewhere between $99 billion and $113 billion. To put this in perspective, The Jamestown Foundation estimated that Russia’s entire defense spending in 2022 was only $77.7 billion. We could have just bought the Russian military and saved all this carnage. So is anybody really keeping track of all this money? What is really disturbing is all the information about the Ukrainian president’s inner circle buying multimillion-dollar mansions in Switzerland, with some of these homes costing as much as $9 million. Unfortunately, that is not all. Apparently, in the southeastern European country of Montenegro, wealthy Ukrainians are also buying beachfront property, driving property values up 50 percent. Then there are indications of money laundering by Ukrainian oligarchs through shell companies, hiding the identity of the owners as they purchase U.S. factories and vast areas of commercial real estate, making them the largest Midwest real estate owners. In addition, the Kyiv Post has highlighted all the money being spent by Ukrainian oligarchs on planes, vehicles and villas, raising the question of where all this money is coming from, especially in a country where the average income is $500 per month. Let’s focus on Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Forbes put Zelenskyy’s net worth at between $20 million and $30 million, which is far more than he could have earned as a simple TV actor and comedian. According to The Guardian, it has been said that Zelenskyy is under the influence of Ukrainian billionaire Igor Kolomoisky, whose TV channel aired Zelenskyy’s sitcom “Servant of the People,” in which a school teacher upset about his country’s corruption runs for president and wins. It is alleged that during Zelenskyy’s real presidential campaign, Kolomoisky transferred $41 million to offshore firms belonging to Zelenskyy and his circle. It is also stated that besides financial support, Kolomoisky provided Zelenskyy with a car and his personal lawyer to be a campaign adviser, and proceeded to promote his candidacy on several media outlets that he owned. According to Forbes, Kolomoisky was interested in obtaining a steel plant, so he sent “hundreds of hired rowdies armed with baseball bats, iron bars, gas and rubber bullet pistols and chainsaws [to] forcibly [take over] the plant.” It should be noted that in March 2021 Kolomoisky was banned from the U.S. due to his “significant corruption.” Politico reported that the Department of Justice is investigating Kolomoisky in what one analyst stated might be “the biggest case of money laundering in history.” Why don’t we hear about this? It is also fascinating to note that, according to the New York Post, part of Kolomoisky’s financial empire is Burisma Holdings, the Ukrainian energy company that employed Hunter Biden as a board member for $50,000 per month. I am sure it is just coincidental, but once Zelenskyy was elected president, “he removed Kolomoisky’s opponents, the Prosecutor General, the Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, and his own prime minister, who tried to regulate Kolomoisky’s control of a state-owned electricity company,” according to CovertAction Magazine. I thought what senior fellow Ted Carpenter of the CATO Institute said concerning Ukraine was worth repeating: “[Ukraine] is not a symbol of freedom and liberal democracy, and the war is not an existential struggle between democracy and authoritarianism. At best, Ukraine is a corrupt, quasi-democratic entity with troubling repressive policies.” So let’s see — the U.S. has given Ukraine somewhere around $100 billion with nobody doing the accounting. Hmm… with 10 percent for the “big guy,” that would be $10 billion dollars. Why, Joe Biden just might make history again by not only getting more votes than any president in U.S. history, but also retiring from the White House on only a $200,000 presidential salary and yet ending up one of the wealthiest men in the world. As a taxpayer, I have one question. With all the money being spent, is it possible we could hire at least one honest accountant? Go ahead and make him a billionaire, so maybe he cannot be bought. I mean, what is another billion or so — among friends. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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