US Senate adviser investigated over Ukrainian military links – NYT

Aprilia Rine

US Senate adviser investigated over Ukrainian military links – NYT
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The Helsinki Commission staffer has made seven trips to Ukraine, bringing $30,000 in sniper equipment at one point

A senior staffer at the US Congress is facing an ethics probe over a public speech in which he boasted of delivering sniper scopes to the Ukrainian army, the New York Times reported on Monday. 

The outlet described Kyle Parker as a “senior Senate adviser” for the US Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe, commonly known as the Helsinki Commission. Parker is one of the committee’s longest-serving aides, described by the times as “a driving force” behind the 2012 Magnitsky Act.

According to a confidential report by the commission’s director and general counsel, leaked to the Times, Parker is being investigated over concerns that his multiple trips to Ukraine and donations of military technology might make him an unregistered foreign agent. 

Parker has been to Ukraine at least seven times since February 2022, according to his social media posts, podcasts and lectures reviewed by the Times. There are photographs of him on social networks wearing uniforms with the insignia of Ukrainian units. In one photo he posted on his own X (formerly Twitter) account, Parker said he was “plotting the liberation” of Lugansk.

In written responses to the Times, Parker’s representative – who insisted on staying anonymous – said the camouflage uniforms were a recommendation of “American and Ukrainian security experts,” that Parker never wore the insignia of the units he was “accompanying,” and that his trips were never official.

However, people who traveled with him have told the outlet that he spoke of the trips as if they had been government business. A photo of him in Kherson was even published by the Helsinki Commission.

Parker apparently had relatives in Ukraine, and told congressional officials that at least some of the trips were to persuade them to evacuate. One of these relatives apparently handed him $30,000 collected by Ukrainian volunteers to buy sights and other equipment for Ukrainian snipers, according to a lecture Parker gave in April 2023 at the University of Maine in Bangor.

According to the lecture, Parker bought the equipment in the US and turned it over to a contact in Kharkov in mid-April 2022. “You never go into wartime Ukraine with an empty suitcase,” he said.

This bothered congressional officials, who said Parker could have violated ethics rules and export restrictions. Their report also accused him of declaring the commission to be on a “war footing” and no longer having to follow rules about reporting travel or contacts with foreign officials. 

The report objected to Parker hiring a Ukrainian parliamentary aide for a congressional fellowship, and alleged he was “wittingly or unwittingly being targeted and exploited by a foreign intelligence service,” recommending FBI involvement. 

According to two anonymous officials who spoke to the Times, an outside law firm is handling the probe and it was unclear whether the FBI ever got involved.

Parker has denied any wrongdoing. His representative claimed the report was “retaliation” by two senior people Parker has accused of misconduct. He remains employed by the commission, even though its chairman – Republican Congressman Joe Wilson – demanded his “immediate resignation or termination” on national security grounds in November.

SOURCE

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