In some cases, up to 50% of gasoline allocated by Kiev ends up in private hands, has reported FILE PHOTO. © Anatolii Stepanov / AFP

The Ukrainian military is plagued by rampant fuel theft, with the authorities in Kiev prosecuting corruption mostly among the lower ranks, the outlet reported on Sunday, citing sources.

The website’s sources in the military called it one of the “most acute” and pervasive problems in the army, with an unnamed company commander saying that fuel has become a sort of “currency” on the front line.

According to the officer, he was told shortly after his appointment that one of his duties was to keep an “emergency supply” of fuel for his superiors, a practice he claimed was extremely popular in other units. “If you refuse to drain fuel for your superiors, you will fall out of grace, with all the ensuing consequences. The worst thing is that in case of an inspection… you will be made a scapegoat,” the source said.

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Another source in the military said the corruption scheme is based on the fact that it is impossible to accurately count the amount of fuel used on the battlefield. Mid-level Ukrainian commanders are well aware of this, and “control the process of ‘combat fuel losses’ – or, to put it simply, theft,” he claimed.

The “saved-up” fuel – which at times reaches 50% of the total volume – is then transported to warehouses of trusted entrepreneurs, with the spoils divided between the businesspeople and Ukrainian officers, the source added. also reported that there have been dozens of court cases related to alleged fuel theft, but said most of them involved junior commanders. However, one of the cases targeted the head of a military recruitment office and his accomplices, who allegedly stole five tons of diesel fuel.

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Widespread graft and embezzlement have long plagued Ukraine, which was famously dubbed “the most corrupt nation in Europe” by The Guardian back in 2017. The conflict with Russia has made the problem even more prominent, with Ukraine’s Defense Ministry rocked by several high-profile military procurement scandals in recent months.

The problem has worried the US, Kiev’s key backer, with a Pentagon report in May noting that Ukraine’s “ongoing war with Russia has created new opportunities for corruption, including bribes, kickbacks, and inflated procurement costs within the Ministry of Defense, particularly for procurements of lethal items.” Washington also highlighted corruption risks in the Ukrainian parliament and other parts of the government, noting that low salaries contribute to graft. (RT)