Ukraine’s Defense Ministry has called a journalistic investigation into a food supply contract for the Armed Forces “misleading” and “manipulative”, the Ministry said on Telegram on Jan. 22.
The investigation, led by the “Our Money” investigation project and published on news website ZN.ua on Ja. 21, revealed that the MoD was buying food for soldiers not on the front lines at prices at two or three times higher than average Kyiv supermarket prices, which are already higher than most other Ukrainian regions. The investigation noted that the Defense Ministry did not respond to inquiries into the matter at the time.
“The organization of high-quality and uninterrupted food for servicemen, in particular in the combat zone,” is a priority for the Ministry, it said in response.
“For this purpose, the ministry purchases relevant services in accordance with the procedure established by law. The information about the contents of procurement of catering services, which has become widespread in the public space, was distributed with signs of deliberate manipulation and is misleading.”
The MoD said it is preparing evidence for an investigation by Ukraine’s SBU security service, in order to hold accountable people who spread “knowingly false information that harms the interests of defense in a special period”.
It also added that it will be launching an internal investigation into the matter.
“In case violations are found in the activities of officials of the Ministry of Defense, they will be held responsible according to the law,” the Ministry said.
Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov on Jan. 21 personally addressed the head of the Parliamentary Committee on National Security, Defense and Intelligence, Oleksandr Zavitnevych, regarding this investigation. He asked Zavitnevych to urgently arrange a meeting to hear “comprehensive information” regarding the procedure, circumstances, and results of the procurement of food services for the military for 2023, with the participation of representatives of the National Anti-Corruption Bureau (NABU) and the State Bureau of Investigation (SBI).
Mariana Bezuhla, deputy chairwoman of the Committee on National Security, Defense, and Intelligence, wrote on Facebook that the “problem isn’t limited with food purchases alone”.
“An inspection of the Ministry of Defense is currently being conducted by the State Audit Service of Ukraine, as well as by the police,” she said.
“We are expecting their conclusions. Our MoD has done a lot during the war time of 2022. But there are also some omissions, and even more so the risk of corruption has to be addressed.”
Later, she reported that the leadership of the Ministry of Defense is expected to provide an explanation to the committee for this contract.
Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak also announced that the Office of the President is aware of the matter.