Which is more corrupt, Ukraine or Russia?

Which is more corrupt, Ukraine or Russia? By Jim Dunnigan.

The Ukrainian leader, Volodymir Zelensky got himself elected president in 2019 by promising to go after corruption. That he did, and still does, because there was a lot of it in Ukraine and even more in Russia where there is more tolerance for corruption.

Zelensky’s anti-corruption efforts accelerated after the Russians invaded a year ago because suddenly the country was receiving billions of dollars in military and economic aid a month and corruption, unlike in Russia, was publicized and foreign donors were discouraged from giving, or giving more, if they found that a lot of the aid was stolen. Initially most of the aid was weapons and those went straight to the troops. But any less specialized supplies could be diverted by corrupt officials for personal profit, and often was. Zelensky was most zealous with officials he worked closely with and it soon became known that if you wanted a senior job in the government, you’d better be clean.

Unlike Russia, Ukraine has free media, which was encouraged to go looking for corrupt practices and report on them. This turned thousands of Ukrainians into sources for stories the journalists were looking for. Zelensky responded to these news reports, even if the stories disrupted a larger anti-corruption investigation. The very wealthy (the oligarchs) who had backed Zelensky’s first election campaign thought this gave them some immunity from the anti-corruption efforts. Early on Zelensky hesitated going after some major donors but that soon changed when it became clear that tolerating corruption by anyone close to him hurt all his anti-corruption efforts.

Improvements in Ukrainian anti-corruption efforts are measured by Transparency International, an organization that began compiling and publishing corruption scores for all the world’s nations in the 1990s and by 1999 was regularly monitoring most of the world’s nations. …



Corruption was a major factor in the collapse of the Soviet Union and most other communist states. Even after adopting democracy, it was difficult to reduce corruption. Democracy and free media did not survive in Russia and were gone by 2000 as Vladimir Putin sought to take Russia back to its Soviet ways. Ukraine had to struggle to hang onto its democracy and free press, which Putin and his neo-Soviets were out to sabotage as part of their plan to rebuild the Soviet Union.



The greater incidence of corruption in Russia made it difficult to recruit or even conscript more troops. In contrast Ukraine had about a million regular and reserve troops a year after the invasion began.

In Russia, corruption in the recruitment and training process is common and discourages new soldiers from fighting. Desertion in the combat zone is also common. Those who don’t desert face almost certain death or injury making “advance or be shot right here” unsupported frontal attacks on well prepared and determined Ukrainian defenders.

The Russian plan is to keep the war going for as long as it takes and wear the Ukrainians and their NATO supporters d0wn. The Russian people are suffering most from all this and Putin believes the Russian people will put up with this because Russians are like this. This ignores the growing number of Russians trying to get out of Russia or staying and sabotaging the war effort.

The Ukraine War is between two very different views of how the world works. The “strong man” cult still has its supporters worldwide.

In Europe and the middle east, the further you go from London the more corrupt it gets, broadly speaking (though the UK scores a little less well than Scandinavia, Switzerland, and the Netherlands).