THE WASHINGTON FOREIGN PRESS CENTER, WASHINGTON, D.C.
MODERATOR: Good afternoon, everyone, and welcome to the Washington Foreign Press Center’s briefing on the latest on the State Department’s foreign assistance efforts. My name is Jake Goshert, and I’m the moderator for today’s briefing. As a reminder, this briefing is on the record. We will post a transcript of the briefing on our website, fpc.state.gov, later today. For journalists joining us on Zoom, please take a moment to now rename yourself in the chat window to your name, your outlet, and your country so we know who you are.
Our briefer today is Dr. Dafna Rand, the director of the State Department’s Office of Foreign Assistance. Following her remarks, I will open the floor to questions. But with that, I will hand it over to Dr. Rand.
DR RAND: Thanks so much, Jake, and thank you all for coming today to the Washington Foreign Press Center. Thanks to the staff of the Washington Foreign Press Center for arranging this briefing.
Today at the top I want to talk about two things. First I want to talk about the U.S. Government and the State Department and USAID’s response to the terrible earthquake that hit Türkiye and Syria last week. And then I want to discuss our foreign assistance efforts with regard to Ukraine and what’s new in that regard. Those are my two topics for today, and I look forward to your questions.
An update on Syria and Türkiye. First, I just want to say to the people who are watching and to all of you how much the American people are with you and how much we are with all of the victims’ families in this terrible, terrible tragedy. The United States, the United States Government, will continue to support the people of Türkiye and Syria, and we are welcoming and continue to welcome and encourage support from all of the international community and all of our partners at this time.
As you all know, last week we announced $85 million of new humanitarian assistance to immediately respond, and we are working very closely with the Turkish Government authorities and local authorities and our NGO partners. We have hundreds of additional U.S. personnel that are arriving in the region to help save lives and assist those in need. We have mobilized a DART team, which stands for a Disaster Assistance and Response Team, a DART team, which is hard at work in southern Türkiye as we speak.
Two of our most highly trained urban search and rescue teams have been deployed from the United States, and they are on the ground conducting efforts and operations with Turkish officials and Turkish rescue efforts in the region of Adiyaman, which is one of the hardest-hit areas. And we’re very proud of their work; they’re going 24 hours without sleeping, working really hard. These teams have specialized equipment and they have canines for search and rescue operations; and joining them is a whole team of emergency response managers, hazardous material technicians, engineers, logisticians, paramedics, and planners that are working, again, hand in glove with other partners and the Turkish officials.
We had existing humanitarian partners on the ground in Syria who immediately, within hours of the earthquake, responded in northwest Syria, U.S. partners that have gone back to the beginning of the civil war providing humanitarian assistance. They are and continue to provide critical emergency relief in northwest Syria, including food, water, shelter, medical care, and U.S. helicopters in the Turkish area are conducting airlift operations, transporting the injured to rescue sites around the country.
Just today we have airlifted 18 metric tons of critical relief supplies for the hard-hit Kahramanmaras region – I hope I pronounced that correctly – in southern Türkiye, and this includes materials for tents for emergency shelter relief; that is one of the problems and the challenges for the survivors, is where to sleep. This is a priority. There are thousands of displaced families all over southern Türkiye. The new equipment includes hygiene supplies to keep people safe and to – and materials to stop the risk of infectious diseases, which we’re worried about. These outbreaks can quickly take over in these type of emergency situation.
We will continue to expand our humanitarian efforts in northwest Syria. We – in this regard, we are grateful to the Government of Türkiye for their efforts in reopening the Bab al-Hawa crossing, and UN partners are now using three border crossings. We in the United States are working at the UN, and we are pushing for a UN Security Council resolution that will urgently authorize these three border crossings. This is critical, to open the two additional crossings from Türkiye to northwest Syria to allow in an expanded relief operation. We call on the Assad regime to immediately allow aid in through all border crossings to allow the distribution of aid to all affected areas and to all Syrians, and to let humanitarian access across Syria without exception.
Now, let me talk a little bit about Ukraine. This has been an ongoing effort of myself personally and my office, the Office of Foreign Assistance, since before Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine last February. Our office manages all foreign assistance across State and USAID, and we were planning for the invasion last winter and worked with Congress, as everyone knows, for a full-scale response since February 24th, 2022, so we’re nearing the one-year anniversary of that terrible day. The Biden administration and U.S. Congress have provided State and USAID over $45 billion. This is a tremendous, generational, historic investment.
And it includes many different components that we have overseen at the State Department and USAID. I want to give you some of the updates of where we are with some of this assistance, but overall, since last year, as folks here know, we have undertaken humanitarian efforts, economic support efforts, security assistance efforts, and we have used this assistance to help our – to mobilize and encourage other partners to support the Government of Ukraine and the people of Ukraine.
So this assistance we’re providing will also secure Ukraine’s energy infrastructure, and that’s something that I want to highlight today, and help Ukraine and other partners in the region, including Moldova, stabilize their economies, prepare for a broader recovery, and support your – their path – the European paths.
In late December, and this is the news part – in late December, Congress passed what we’re calling the fourth supplemental. This is a big supplemental appropriation that gave State and USAID nearly 30 billion more dollars to support Ukraine and its neighbors. And I want to run through some of what we’re doing with that supplemental funding.
First, this funding has – allows us to continue our budgetary support to the Government of Ukraine, and working with Congress we are providing much more in the coming months. We have – since the full-scale invasion, the U.S. has provided $13 billion in budget support to the Government of Ukraine, and working with Congress in the coming months we plan on providing $9.9 billion. And we remain committed to working with the Government of Ukraine to maintain its operational capacity and to provide additional budget support as necessary.
Now, this funding is doing so much. And just a few examples: It is alleviating, obviously, the acute budget deficit on the Government of Ukraine that was caused by Putin’s brutal war, but it’s keeping basic government services functioning, like hospitals, schools, and utilities. This funding is supporting teachers, firefighters, first responders across Ukraine that are saving the lives of Ukrainian citizens every single day.
The fourth supplemental also had a focus on energy, and I want to announce and commend our work in supporting the – with $270 million in new assistance to help repair, maintain, and strengthen Ukraine’s power sector, which has been attacked brutally by Russian forces. We will continue to identify additional support with our allies and partners.
And then finally, I want to talk a little bit – this new assistance will offer new abilities to provide humanitarian assistance. Specifically, there are explosives that remain very hazardous across Ukraine, and this assistance will help us remove these hazards because they are blocking access to farmlands and they are slowing the distribution of humanitarian assistance. They are impeding the reconstruction efforts across Ukraine. The Government of Ukraine has estimated that now 160,000 square kilometers of its land is now contaminated by these explosive hazards. So we are working with this fourth supplemental to remove these hazards.
We salute the armed forces of Ukraine and all of its citizens continue to inspire the world with tremendous skill and profound courage, and I should note that we also applaud and thank other partners of ours and of Ukraine for stepping up and providing complementary assistance.
I would – finally, I would note that there is a good news story here. We’re also supporting the people of Ukraine through a new authority that Congress gave us in late December. On December 29th, the President signed into law the Additional Ukraine Supplemental Act, and in it there was a new authority that allowed the Department of Justice to transfer assets forfeited by a KleptoCapture Task Force – this is DOJ’s new KleptoCapture Task Force – that is capturing assets from kleptocrats and is able to transfer those funds to the State Department, to our office, to then be used on behalf of the people of Ukraine. This task force is remarkable, and I just thank our colleagues at the Department of Justice; they are dedicated to enforcing the sweeping sanctions, export restrictions, and economic counter-measures that the U.S. has imposed in response to Russia’s unprovoked military campaign.
So just this month we are pleased to announce that in the first asset recovery, $5.4 million were captured by the KleptoCapture Task Force, and it was a proceeds of a scheme to evade U.S. sanctions imposed by a close ally of Putin’s. His name is Konstanin Malofeev, and he has sought for many years to destabilize Eastern Europe through financing paramilitary groups in Ukraine and in other parts of Europe. We were able to seize 5.4 of these million dollars of his, transfer them – we’re in the process of transferring them to the State Department, and we are intending to use them to support the people of Ukraine, particularly focusing on veterans.
So that is what we are working on, among many, many other humanitarian, security sector pieces of assistance for Ukraine. And maybe I’ll stop there and look forward to your questions.
MODERATOR: Thank you so much, Dr. Rand, for those remarks. We’re going to open it up for questions now. Ask the journalists on Zoom, please change your name to your name and your outlet and country. If you have a question, click the “Raise Hand” icon. But we’re going to start here in the room. We’ll go first to start with you there.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) few questions for you, if – oh. Yasmine El-Sabawi with TRT World. A few questions. If first you could give us a break – those 85 million – a breakdown. How much went to Türkiye, how much went to Syria, how much went to government entities versus NGOs. We also heard Samantha Power recently talk about the importance of cash in these areas, more than just donations of other things. Can we expect another announcement soon of more funding? And perhaps lastly, could you speak to a potential visit by the Secretary or Ambassador Power to the region sometime soon?
DR RAND: Sure, all good questions. I can’t speak to future travel at this time, but I can talk a little bit of what the $85 million is doing. The U.S. – the humanitarian assistance goes to nongovernmental organizations and partners in Türkiye and Syria, including to some extent UN organizations. So – and we are working with our UN partners to see how much more money that they need in both Türkiye and Syria. So that is an ongoing conversation with organizations like the IOM, the International Organization of Migration, and UNHCR. So we are continuing to discuss with them their needs as they assess in the stage of recovery what they will need, and we expect that we will need and want to support them further.
In terms of the $85 million, it’s spread out across the earthquake-affected area. It is being provided to a range of partners. It is, again, nongovernmental funding. Many of these partners in Syria were already on the ground, which we’re very lucky in some sense. In Türkiye, the organizations that are working are familiar to the Government of Türkiye, and they’re working hand-in-hand with the Government of Türkiye. They’re disaster experts and relief experts.
And again, we’re shifting to a moment here on the humanitarian relief where we’re really trying to help the tens of thousands of families who’ve been displaced, including the many, many children. There are significant medical needs among both the displaced and those who were injured in the earthquake. And so a bulk of the funding is going to the medical needs, a bulk is going to these temporary shelters in Türkiye to help emergency shelters that need to withstand a very, very cold winter. As folks know, it’s very cold right now in Türkiye and in Syria.
So that is what the bulk of the funding is going to right now. The search and rescue funding also – that will eventually morph into a stabilization effort. So we are – we expect that we will have more announcements and more efforts as we’re going to need to go in and help stabilize, especially with some more – working hand-in-glove with government officials in the local area. But right now the humanitarian assistance is focused – spread out across Syria and Türkiye with nongovernmental partners on the areas that I described.
MODERATOR: Okay. Let’s stick with the earthquake for now. Does anyone in the room have questions regarding the earthquake? Yes, wait for the microphone. And your name and outlet and country?
QUESTION: Thank you. My name is Iaroslav Dovgopol. I am working with Ukrainian National News Agency. So my question is obviously about Ukraine. In January, a group of general inspectors from the U.S. Government visited Ukraine. Can you give us more details about the mechanism to control U.S. aid in Ukraine, and do we expect new such kind of visits to Kyiv?
And the other question, if I may. In your opinion, does Ukrainian Government sufficiently transparent – provide sufficiently transparent reports on using U.S. aid to satisfy the information needs of the American taxpayers? Thank you.
DR RAND: Thank you. These are excellent questions. They are questions our Congress is asking us every day, so I thank you for the questions.
I can’t speak to specific travel of the OIG or other State Department entities, but I will tell you that the accountability on U.S. taxpayer dollars has been a top priority from President Biden to Secretary Blinken to Administrator Power. We are committed, committed, committed that every dollar of U.S. taxpayer money will be accountable to the people of Ukraine and to the funders, the taxpayers in America.
We are working on many levels of accountability with the Government of Ukraine, with President Zelenskyy and his great team, and they have been actively involved. We also have third-party accountability, so we have obviously our IG, our inspector generals at State and USAID and DOD who have been very active in overseeing this assistance, as well as NGOs who are looking at it as well as assistance projects that will really answer to the taxpayer, to us, to the State Department, and then to Congress about how this money is being used.
So we are focused on it, we are watching every dollar, and we are committed to the highest level of accountability.
QUESTION: (Inaudible) and in the visit of general inspectors to Ukraine?
DR RAND: I’m not sure about the plan for the inspector generals. As I said, the inspector generals at USAID, State, and DOD have been in the region because they are – have been asked by our leadership to lean in and work together as an interagency group of overseers. They’re independent from State Department officials, so I don’t know about their travel plans and I won’t —
MODERATOR: Okay. We’ll open up, then, to any other questions.
QUESTION: Follow-up on Ukraine?
MODERATOR: Yes, follow-up on Ukraine, any other questions. Yes.
QUESTION: Oh, thank you. Dmytro Anopchenko, Ukrainian Television. Thank you very much for organizing this. Actually, two questions, please. Firstly, for the ordinary people, the biggest problem is the situation with energy, those blackouts because of the Russian missile strikes and drone strikes. So what’s your plan for restoring the Ukrainian power grid? I know it is a lot.
And secondly, you mentioned this possibility to use the confiscated corruption Russian money for Ukraine. Could you tell a little bit more how it works? Are this money going to Ukraine directly or you have a possibility to spend it to restore Ukraine, to help Ukraine to buy something? Thank you.
DR RAND: Great. Two good questions. So as I said, in this fourth supplemental, Congress authorized in late December of 2022, we are spending a significant amount of that supplemental on the problem or the challenge of energy. We know that this is critical. This is civilian infrastructure that’s being hit as a violation of international laws of war in the campaign by Putin on the civilian grid. It is affecting everyday aspects of life in Ukraine for everyone: going to school, going to work.
We have already invested $270 million of our assistance in trying to protect, repair, and create a grid that is – can be resilient against the attacks, and that is the effort right now. We’re also doing so in a way that will be sustainable to protect our – the energy of the Ukrainian people through the longer term, the medium to longer term. So it is a major focus of our assistance right now and we have a team across the U.S. Government that’s working with both NGOs and local government and national government in Ukraine to figure out how to do that the best way. Technical experts from both the public and private sector are working on it. So that’s number one.
And number two was about the assets, and that’s – it’s a great question. We expect that this great team at DOJ that I mentioned will continue to seize the assets per the law for the – per the klepto – per the law that was authorized in December, and we are now not fully there in making the decisions but we are trying to see what is the best use of this money. How do we – we’ve seized it, and it was used to fuel the war and the bellicosity; now we want to return it to support the Ukrainian people in their time of need.
MODERATOR: And I think – do we have any other questions in the room? Yes, over there. Please wait for the microphone and state your name and outlet.
QUESTION: Thank you, Dafna. My name is Jina Park, JTVC from South Korea. So last month DOD asked (inaudible) to provide equipment to help Ukraine in the war against Russia, and about two weeks ago in a news conference with Secretary Austin, South Korean defense minister left the door open to reconsidering Seoul’s prohibition against sending weapons to Ukraine. And in light of North Korea’s missile support to Russia and recent Russian advances in Ukraine territories, has there been any request from the U.S. to urge South Korea and its eastern allies for more support of the trilateral U.S.-ROK-Japan talks two days ago?
DR RAND: Thank you so much. I can’t speak to the individual partners and what has been asked of them and what they’ve delivered. I can just comment on the multilateral effort. It has been a remarkable effort since last February where General Austin, as you mentioned, has really been a leader and with the other NATO secretaries of defense and others around the world have figured out how to support the armed forces of Ukraine.
But I can’t speak individually to what any country is planning or what the status of those talks is. I can just thank the partners around the world who supported the U.S. in this effort, understanding how important it is for Ukrainian democracy and to push back against what is really a violation of international norms and laws of sovereignty, freedom, democracy. And that’s what we’re fighting for, and it’s been really reassuring and really wonderful at the State Department to see how many partners around the world have recognized how important it is to stand up to this brutal aggression in the war waged by Putin.
MODERATOR: Okay. We’re going to jump onto the Zoom. Rawad Taha from Lebanon, if you could unmute yourself and please ask your question.
QUESTION: Thank you so much, Doctor. Thank you so much for this —
MODERATOR: We can’t hear you.
QUESTION: Can you hear me now?
MODERATOR: Can you unmute yourself, Rawad?
QUESTION: Yes, I am unmuted. Can you hear me?
MODERATOR: Still can’t hear you. If you want to type your question in the chat box, and I can ask it.
While we’re waiting for that, I’ll move onto Alex from Turan News Agency in Azerbaijan. Alex.
QUESTION: Hi, Jake, can you hear me? Jake, can you hear me? Hi, Jake.
MODERATOR: I can hear you on my computer, but not in the room.
QUESTION: Okay. Can you hear me now?
MODERATOR: So Alex, I’m going to ask you to also type your question, and since we’re having technical difficulties.
MODERATOR: Any other questions in the room? Yes.
QUESTION: I do want to ask about Syria, and we have seen that general license come through from the Treasury, but still there is a lot of talk that it was U.S. sanctions in place that made this, I guess, disaster a lot worse than what it could have been. Can you speak more to that and – because we’ve heard from the UN as well that the UN is saying that the international community has failed northern Syria. Can you add more to what we know about the assistance?
DR RAND: Sure. Let me be very clear: even before the earthquake, there were no U.S. sanctions in place that was preventing humanitarian assistance to Syria. The U.S. has been giving – the United States has been giving humanitarian assistance across Syria since 2011 and billions and billions of dollars. So there was no sanction prohibition before, but just to be extra cautious – to communicate emphatically to the international community and the business community and any NGO, last week the Department of Treasury issued a general license to reemphasize and reiterate this fact. The fact of the past 12 years is that there’s absolutely no impediment or prohibition on humanitarian assistance to northwest Syria, northeast Syria, territories of Syria controlled by the Assad regime.
And so the clarification on the sanctions is intended to really signal that the impediment to humanitarian access in northwest Syria has been the Assad’s regime unwillingness and inability to deliver humanitarian aid. In addition, there’s only been one border crossing. It’s been a narrow road that goes from Türkiye to Syria. The earthquake destroyed parts of the road, as you can see on the news on that road. It was a tiny road. If you saw already a day after the earthquake, there was a line – you can see this on Google Maps – of convoys of trucks of aid trying to get through that one border crossing between the relief agencies that were on the border in Türkiye and northwest Syria where thousands and thousands and thousands could have been rescued and many, many – tens of thousands were in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
In the past week, our efforts has been to urge the international community to push the UN Security Council to authorize more border openings, more border crossings. At one point there were five; now there’s only been one. So to at least open two more, which the Türkiye – Turkish authorities have done. Now we really want to concretize that and solidify that with a formal UN Security Council resolution. That is the way to get in more aid, and it is the Assad regime that has prohibited the international community from reaching northwest Syria for many, many years.
MODERATOR: Okay. And my technical team tells me that the issue with Zoom audio has been fixed, so we’ll try it one more time with Rawad in – from Lebanon. Rawad.
QUESTION: Can you hear me now?
MODERATOR: Go ahead.
QUESTION: Yeah, can you hear me now?
MODERATOR: It’s very quiet. If the technical team can turn it up. Okay. Let’s try it now, Rawad.
MODERATOR: There we go. Perfect.
QUESTION: Thank you so much. Thank you so much first for this briefing. I have two main questions. My first question is on the situation in northwest Syria, which I think you just started the elaborating on a minute ago. The first question is: Up until now we’re seeing that no increase in the crossings have been opened. A lot of the aid coming to Syria has – by partners and other allies of the U.S. is being directly delivered through Damascus airport, which is directly falling under the authority of the regime. So how can the U.S. and – be sure that aid that’s being delivered directly to the regime is also going to be distribute to the areas affected by the opposition, northern west Syria, which is the areas most affected by the disaster as a start?
My second follow-up question would be: Given the fact that USAID and other partners have limited access to government – to regime-controlled areas which are also affected by the earthquake, is there any role for other partners in the area, in particular in Lebanon or the USAID office in Lebanon, that could play a role in helping the people affected outside of northwest Syria in regime-controlled areas as well?
DR RAND: Great. These are all good questions. Thank you so much. I would just note, for example, I mentioned that the U.S. has had partners working on humanitarian assistance across Syria for many, many years, and these partners were quick to pivot from other work to earthquake response. The White Helmets are one of those partners that folks have heard of that have been on the ground, and my team tells me that already they’ve saved 2,900 folks. The White Helmets alone have saved 2,900 individuals, rescuing them from the earthquake in northwest Syria in non-regime-held areas since last – since the earthquake last week. So that’s just an example of how teams of partners of State and USAID that have been working for many times have been just hard at work.
There are many discussions ongoing on how to open the aperture so that the relief and aid community can reach those in need in Syria. One way you’ve mentioned is through other countries in the region. Martin Griffiths, who’s our special representative at the UN for humanitarian issues, was in Damascus talking to various UN agencies and to the Assad regime about how to push – in terms of access – to non-regime-held areas, so those talks are ongoing, and he came back and briefed the UN Security Council on Monday.
There are also talks that are going on and we are trying to work with our partners bilaterally – International Organization of Migration, UNHCR, UN Women, other organizations that have long worked with USAID and State in the – in the region, Lebanon and Syria, elsewhere, how to expand their reach across the country to reach those in need. So those talks are ongoing, and – but I’m hopeful.
QUESTION: Thank you so much.
MODERATOR: Okay, and now we’ll go to Alex from Turan News Agency in Azerbaijan on the Zoom call. Alex, please unmute yourself and your camera, if you can.
QUESTION: Jake, can you hear me now?
MODERATOR: We hear you loud and clear.
QUESTION: Terrific. Thank you so very much.
I have – I want to pick up on where Dmytro has left off when it comes to confiscated Russian assets. First of all, thank you so much for mentioning 5.4 million. As I understand, the U.S. has moved to seize more than 1 billion so far to illicit – of illicit assets since the start of the war. Is it something you are relying on moving forward in the weeks and months ahead, particularly given what’s going on – I don’t want to drag you into domestic politics – but going on on the Hill? We have seen recently the Republicans came up with their own legislative action. Do you have any concern about the source of the funding and how much you will rely on that source of funding, let’s say, moving forward?
And secondly, if I may, this goes beyond Ukraine but also might be beyond the scope of you’re – what we’re covering today, but I want to ask you about South Caucasus as well. Moving forward, how much of foreign assistance will be linked to the human rights records of those countries? In Georgia, they’re – they (inaudible) after the former president. In Azerbaijan, there’s so many political prisoners right now. Both are turning their blind eyes on international calls to release them. How much that situation will factor into your foreign assistance moving forward? Thank you so much.
DR RAND: Thank you. Okay, so there are three questions – let me take them, each one. Let’s start with the rest of the region. So you were mentioning the Caucasus, Georgia, other parts of the region. We are very conscious in all of our foreign assistance policies that there are other factors at play in the bilateral relationship with the country receiving the foreign assistance. In the Office of Foreign Assistance we adhere to the many, many laws governing our foreign assistance – the Leahy Law, the Child Soldier Protection Act. There are a set of laws that govern how foreign assistance can be given if a government or a recipient is – has questionable human rights records. So I would defer to another briefing about those countries that you mentioned, but I would say just as a general matter on human rights and foreign assistance, we’re very careful, very thoughtful, very nuanced, and the governments around the world who receive U.S. foreign assistance from our office know about our boundaries and our guidelines. And I’m happy to talk in a future briefing about other parts of the world.
On the assets in particular, look, the first – first of all, the law just passed December 29th, at the very end of the last Congress, so I really commend my colleagues at the Department of Justice for their quick work in being able to utilize this new authority right away to seize this first $5.4 million tranche. This tranche, as I mentioned, came from sanction evasion, so it was captured through the task force that I mentioned. I defer your question to Department of Justice for – on the specifics of what is the universe of assets that can be seized. I’m not familiar with the specifics. I would take that question back for Department of Justice.
I would just say that this is a new authority that will allow us to supplement our U.S. foreign assistance. As I mentioned, we’ve had billions of dollars of foreign assistance. This is an expression of both Congress and the administration and the American people’s support for the people and Government of Ukraine. The asset recovery is a good news story because it’s a measure of justice, frankly, even if it’s a small amount of justice, that those who have been spending their money to finance paramilitary groups and ruthless bellicose groups across that front and really the engines of Putin’s war machine against Ukraine are being held a little bit to justice and some of these – their criminal acts are being held accountable. So I wanted to mention it there, but I’d defer you to the Department of Justice just to – for your questions about the universe of how many more assets to be recovered.
Your third question – your first question, remind me again?
QUESTION: Yeah, it was about the congressional efforts to drain the funding.
DR RAND: Okay, great. So yeah, the congressional authority stands and everyone – Department of Justice and State Department are working together on the authority. But I defer the specific questions on how the assets are captured to the capture team at DOJ.
MODERATOR: Any last questions? Yes.
QUESTION: Thank you very much. If we have a short time for a short follow-up about the issue you spoke already about, the – necessary to have the transparency for spending American money in Ukraine. The USAID informed like a week ago that U.S. has established – I’m quoting – the institution to monitor and investigate the “illegal actions of fraudsters and corrupt officials” who are taking advantage of American people’s assistance during Russian full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Could you tell more – do we have an understanding? Will it be the interagency group or it will work in the State Department? Or – and will they be based in Washington or in Kyiv?
DR RAND: Sure. All good questions. Let me just reiterate again that our accountability measures for our foreign assistance are many levels. We have many checks; we’re not relying on one mechanism. We’re layering on top of each other many checks. I mentioned the IG, the inspector generals that have autonomy, and so they are one check. We have also working with multilateral organizations other checks, for example through the World Bank, on the foreign assistance. And then we have our work directly bilaterally with the Government of Ukraine to make sure that we see exactly how our money is being spent, and maybe you’re referring to pieces of that.
We have staffed up in our mission in Kyiv. Our ambassador and her team are working around the clock on this accountability issue. So to answer your question, we are staffing up in the region to do this, to really know how the money is being spent, both the security sector and the economic assistance, both sides. And I commend our personnel who are very stretched in Kyiv for their work on focus on this as a top priority. So to answer your question, we are working at this at many levels.
I should also note that the U.S. Government as a matter of foreign assistance has long supported NGOs in Ukraine that work on anti-corruption. And that’s another important check is civil society itself in Ukraine, and we are ongoing in our support. That support has predated the war, and the relationships with those partners is ongoing.
MODERATOR: Okay, and with that, we’ll end the Q&A session. I’d like to thank Dr. Rand and hand it back to you for any last closing thoughts you might have.
DR RAND: I would just emphasize on both points we are working as hard as we can to do the right thing on Türkiye and Syria. Every picture of every saved lives is a good and emotional story, but the work is really yet to come. We have such – so many people affected. The U.S. and the – government and the U.S. people will stand by the people of Türkiye and Syria. We will do everything we can. This is a generational disaster; it defies the imagination. And so our sympathy is with the families who’ve been affected, who’ve lost loved ones, and who’ve lost their homes, and for all the people who are still searching for their loved ones.
On Ukraine, I cannot say enough about how much effort we’re putting in at the Biden-Harris administration at the White House, at the State Department, USAID, DOD to do the right thing, to help the Government of Ukraine. We are fighting for the freedom and democracy and the rules – the rule of law here. And we are working carefully with really brave Ukrainian leaders, and we just commend those in Ukraine who are continuing to fight and to the population who’s really undergone – the citizens of Ukraine have undergone an incredibly difficult year, nearing the one-year mark. It’s just – our sympathy and our support is with you, and we will continue to support you. Thank you.
MODERATOR: And thank you, Dr. Rand, for sharing your time with us today. And thank you to all our FPC journalists for joining us here in person and on the Zoom. This ends our briefing today. Thank you.