CBS News retracted a documentary it briefly released on Sunday after pressure from the Ukrainian government. The original documentary (watch it here) CBS put out examined the flow of military aid to Ukraine and quoted someone familiar with the process who said in April that only 30% of the arms were making it to the frontline.
“All of this stuff goes across the border, and then something happens, kind of like 30% of it reaches its final destination,” said Jonas Ohman, the founder of Blue-Yellow, a Lithuania-based organization that CBS said has been meeting with and supplying frontline units with aid in Ukraine since the start of the war in the Donbas in 2014. “30-40%, that’s my estimation,” Ohman said.
After the documentary sparked outrage from the Ukrainian government, it was removed from the internet by CBS. In an editor’s note, CBS said it changed the article that was published with the documentary and that the documentary itself was being “updated.”
The editor’s note also insisted that Ohman has said the delivery of weapons in Ukraine has “significantly improved” since he filmed with CBS back in April, although he didn’t offer a new estimate on the percentage of arms being delivered.
The editor’s note also said that the Ukrainian government noted US defense attaché Brig. Gen. Garrick M. Harmon arrived in Kyiv in August for “arms control and monitoring.” Defense attachés are military officers stationed at US embassies that represent the Pentagon’s interests in the country. Previously, it was unclear if there was any sort of military presence at the US embassy in Kyiv after it reopened in May.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the retraction by CBS was not enough and called for an investigation into the documentary. “Welcome first step, but it is not enough … There should be an internal investigation into who enabled this and why,” he wrote on Twitter.
In the documentary, Ohman described the corruption and bureaucracy that he has to work around to deliver aid to Ukraine. “There are like power lords, oligarchs, political players,” he said. “The system itself, it’s like, ‘We are the armed forces of Ukraine. If security forces want it, well, the Americans gave it to us.’ It’s kind of like power games all day long, and so eventually people need the stuff, and they go to us.”
Other reporting has shown that there is virtually no oversight for the billions of dollars in weapons that the US and its allies are pouring into Ukraine. CNN reported in April that the US has “almost zero” ability to track the weapons it is sending once they enter Ukraine. One source briefed on US intelligence described it as dropping the arms into a “big black hole.”