The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has not even built the wall on the border with Russia on paper

The Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine has not even built the wall on the border with Russia on paper
Photo: Ukrainian photo

The Cabinet of Ministers failed to meet the deadline for executing the first stage of the building and reinforcing the Ukrainian border with Russia. The ambitious project “The Wall” announced by Ukraine’s Premier Arseniy Yatsenyuk is not even on paper. At the last moment, the government decided to replace the executor and the steward of budget funds.

No wall, no money

On September 30 the Cabinet of Ministers allotted the deadline for the execution of the first stage of “The Wall” project. This project was approved at the meeting of the government on September 3 and envisaged the creation of a reinforced defense structure on the border with Russia. “The government already allocated UAH 100 mn for the implementation of “The Wall” project. Construction works have already begun,” Yatsenyuk said on September 12.

The construction of “The Wall” was planned for execution in two stages. In the first stage it was planned to equip a part of the border that is outside of the zone of conflict and active military actions, specifically on the isthmus between Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula and in the Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv and part of the Luhansk oblasts.

In the second stage, which will begin upon the cease of military actions in the Donbas region, there are plans to reinforce approximately 400 km of the border in Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

Head of the State Border Service (SBS) Serhiy Astakhov told Capital that “The Wall” project has been temporarily postponed. He said initially the Ministry of Infrastructure was approved as the executor of the project, but last week “The Wall” project was conveyed to the SBS. The corresponding resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers will be published after the new plan of the project is accepted and confirmed. Then the government will set the budget and the terms of its fulfillment anew.

“The situation has changed: now we are the client and the executor of the project. After it was launched other ministries and departments made observations and expressed their desires. Now, the new documents have been drafted and submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers,” Astakhov said, noting that the SBS has not yet received the UAH 100 mn allocated for these purposes.

Minister of Infrastructure Maksym Burbak told Capital that the government decided to substitute the executor of the project with the aim of “rational use of time”. He said the cost of special equipment that border services will choose and pay for out of their own pockets account for more than half of the cost estimate for “The Wall” project.

“It turned out that we would build The Wall and then, a year later, the SBS would put it on its balance sheet and review the cost estimate. Another example: certain types of work are purely the authority of the border guards. I will not issue them a bill every month for the maintenance of the control zone,” Burbak stressed. The minister notes that the State Border Service will be the main manager of budget funds and the funds will become available after the planning of the project is completed.

Pursuant to the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers, the Ministry of Defense is obligated to allocate the money for the execution of the first stage of “The Wall” project from the UAH 9.1 bn that the government allocated for the needs of military formations in the Donbas region back in August 2014. Noteworthy is that the SBS is part of the system of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, not the Ministry of Defense. Moreover, of the UAH 9.1 bn that was allocated the State Border Service received UAH 713.9 mn, the MIA – UAH 2 bn and the Ministry of Defense – 5.9 bn.

Keep on digging…

Notwithstanding the lack of plans for the future Wall and financing from the government, the State Border Service has been engaged in planned reinforcement of the Ukrainian border for several months now. Capital affirmed that the task of the eastern and northern administrations of the SBS in the first stage was fulfilled on time. Indeed, the task of putting up concrete structures entrusted to the administrative sites was executed, anti-tank trenches were dug out, control trace lanes were created and additional observation towers were mounted.

Head of the sector on issues of cooperation with the media of the Eastern Administration of the SBS Myron Sydor told Capital that the reports on the execution of work were submitted to the management of the SBS. He said that the measures on the border were conducted at their own expense. “We did our work using our own financial resources, but in order to install engineering and electronic means of control of “The Wall” we must first buy them,” Sydor underscored.

The State Border Service refused to specify how many kilometers of the border have been fortified alluding to the rapid changes in the situation. Noteworthy is that the total length of the border of Ukraine with Russia is 2,295 km, though to this day not one of the points have been demarcated.

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