Home Politics Monitor War in Ukraine: unprepared fortifications provokes national controversy
Politics Monitor

War in Ukraine: unprepared fortifications provokes national controversy

In a Rada accustomed to spectacle, on May 22 the opposition had hung signs on the desk of the President of Parliament with evocative slogans: “Fortifications are the life of Ukrainian soldiers”, “Corruption in fortifications kills”. At the end of a hectic day, the chamber decided to create a temporary commission of inquiry into the use of funds for fortifications that the opposition had been clamoring for for several months.

The construction of the trenches, casemates, minefields and anti-tank obstacles which are to form the Ukrainian defensive lines has been controversial since the start of the year due to its slowness and modalities. But the debate came to the forefront after the offensive launched in the Kharkiv region by the Russian army on May 10 exposed the fragilities of these fortifications.

“The first line of defense was built, but not well enough,” criticized Konstantin Nemichev, commander of the ultranationalist “Kraken” unit, created at the start of the invasion in Kharkiv, on social networks. “The problem is that it started to be built two or three months before the start of the offensive (…) I remind you that the region was liberated a year and a half ago.”

Faced with this observation, the parliamentary committee must shed light on possible failings and embezzlement which may have hampered the preparation of the defense lines. “The opposition will obviously seize the slightest opportunity to attack the authorities, but there are real grievances which have particularly emanated from the army,” notes Volodymyr Fessenko, political analyst based in kyiv. It is also a signal for President Zelensky, who had presented Kharkiv as an example of effective work. »

Corruption, a national security issue
Really started at the beginning of the year, the fortification construction effort involves the earthwork of at least three distinct defensive lines on more than 3,000 kilometers of the Russian front and border. A titanic project involving the army, which digs the trenches closest to the front line, and Ukrainian construction companies responsible for building the imposing reinforced concrete fortifications of the third line.

This involvement of the private sector is synonymous with a host of contracts. According to the Ukrainian anti-corruption NGO Nashi Groshi, tenders totaling more than 21 billion hryvnias (around 485 million euros) were concluded for the months of February and March 2024 alone for the construction of fortifications. Thirty times more than for the whole of 2023.

An influx of funding which increases the risks of corruption. Three days after the start of the Russian offensive in the Kharkiv region, the anti-corruption organization “Meja” pointed out the choices of companies it considers dubious for the delivery of timber for construction of trenches in the region. from Kharkiv. “The problem is that we don’t understand how these companies are able to deliver 40,000 cubic meters of wood, it’s a huge volume,” worries Anatoli Yarema, lawyer with the “Meja” organization. who participated in the investigation.

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The governor of the region, Oleh Syniehoubov, justified himself in an interview with the Ukrainian media Oukraïnska Pravda by the constraint of time: the verifications of these companies created only a few months ago would, he assured, “taken at less a month and perhaps more (…) And during this time, we would not have been able to respect the specifications established by the office of the president, the cabinet of ministers and, above all, the army.

This article is originally published on la-croix.com

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