The United Nations has asked Ukraine to pull its peacekeepers out of Lebanon amid allegations of financial abuse, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said today, IOL reported.
Ukraine’s 500-person battalion will be replaced in the UN peacekeeping force by troops from other nations, the ministry said.
“The UN and Ukraine take these events very seriously,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
Ukraine said it was sending a special commission to investigate the allegations of financial improprieties among members of Ukraine’s battalion and would make all of its findings known to the United Nations.
The statement, endorsed by both the UN and Ukraine, emphasized that Ukraine would continue its participation in other UN operations, and that Ukraine “has a long history of voluntary service in UN peacekeeping operations and is a constant and important contributor.”
Ukraine’s battalion in Lebanon was made up of sappers, who were responsible for mine clearance.
Ukraine has participated in several peacekeeping missions worldwide including the ill-fated UN-led peacekeeping operations in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1992-95.
It also has troops deployed in Iraq, although they are expected to be fully withdrawn by the end of the year.
Ukrainian troops and military observers are also deployed in Kosovo, Congo, Lebanon, Ethiopia and Eritrea, Liberia and the former Soviet republic of Moldova.
In June, Ukrainian prosecutors announced that the former head of Ukraine’s peacekeeping contingent in Iraq had been arrested on charges of smuggling. Ukrainian authorities earlier in the year had detained several soldiers on leave from Iraq on charges of smuggling £160,000 (?234,000) in cash.
Ukraine’s military has suffered cash shortages since the country’s 1991 independence; salaries are low and officers lost many of the benefits they enjoyed when Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union.
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