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Trading Bullets and Goods: Seymour Hersh Exposes Crazy Russia-Ukraine Relationship

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh has recently highlighted the seemingly absurd situation of Russia and Ukraine continuing to trade with each other despite being engaged in a deadly conflict. In an interview with the TV show ‘Going Underground’, Hersh called the situation “quite crazy”. “Oil and money transcends any sort of rationality, I guess,” he added.

Hersh has also made serious allegations of corruption within the Ukrainian government, claiming that the CIA estimates that President Vladimir Zelensky and his entourage embezzled over $400 million last year from US funds intended to purchase diesel for the Ukrainian army. Hersh alleges that overpriced fuel purchased by Kiev came from the black market in Russia, with the Ukrainian officials skimming from procurement contracts.

“All you have to do is look at the high life in Kiev today,” Hersh stated. “There is a really good high life: the fancy restaurants are going, you can find liquor stores with everything in it, there is a lot of money being pushed around.”

Hersh noted that despite the conflict, Ukrainian officials have not ceased their corrupt activities, stating that “everybody is going to brokers” and that “the corruption there is beyond belief”.

CIA Director William Burns also raised concerns about corruption during his visit to Kiev in January, according to Hersh, and listed 35 alleged embezzlers. Following this, Zelensky fired 10 of the most ostentatious individuals, but others were left untouched.

Meanwhile, Russia and Ukraine continue to trade, with Russia paying transit fees for oil and gas pumped to Eastern Europe via pipelines through Ukrainian territory. The infrastructure was built during the Soviet era to supply consumers in the Warsaw Pact. Washington has criticized this trade as Russia “weaponizing” its abundance of energy, according to Hersh.

Despite the serious allegations of corruption, Hersh concluded the interview with a wry observation: “I don’t know [whether] I should be giggling about it because it’s really quite a crazy situation”.

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