Live updates: Russia’s war in Ukraine

Criminals, volunteer fighters and arms traffickers in Ukraine stole some Western-provided weapons and equipment intended for Ukrainian troops last year before it was recovered, according to a US Defense Department inspector general report obtained by CNN.

The plots to steal the weaponry and equipment were disrupted by Ukraine’s intelligence services and the items were ultimately recovered, according to the report, titled “DoD’s Accountability of Equipment Provided to Ukraine.” CNN obtained the report via a Freedom of Information Act request. first reported the news.

But the inspector general report noted that after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, the Defense Department’s ability to track and monitor all of the US equipment pouring into Ukraine, as required by law under the Arms Export Control Act, faced “challenges” because of the limited US presence in the country.

According to the report, which examined the period of February-September 2022, the Office of Defense Cooperation-Kyiv “was unable to conduct required (end-use monitoring) of military equipment that the United States provided to Ukraine in FY 2022.”

“The inability of DoD personnel to visit areas where equipment provided to Ukraine was being used or stored significantly hampered ODC-Kyiv’s ability to execute” the monitoring, the report added.

The report is dated October 6, 2022. In late October, the US resumed on-site inspections of Ukrainian weapons depots as a way to better track where the equipment was going. The department has also provided Ukraine with tracking systems, including scanners and software, the Pentagon’s former under secretary of defense for policy, Colin Kahl, told lawmakers in February.

But the report underscores how difficult it was in the early days of the war for the US to track the billions of dollars worth of weapons and equipment it was sending to Ukraine.

“The US government remains keenly aware of the risk of possible illicit diversion and is proactively taking steps to mitigate this risk in close cooperation with the government of Ukraine. We are realistic that we are sending weapons to help Ukraine defend itself in an active conflict, and there is a risk these weapons could be captured if territory changes hands — which happens in any war,” a US State Department spokesperson said.

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