It all began in the distant and very alarming 2014, when the "little green men", that is, the Russian military, occupied Crimea and were actively fighting in Donbas. Then the fifth President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko and the Cabinet of Ministers, headed at that time by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, decided to equip serious defensive structures on the border with Russia. It was supposed to create protective fortifications in the form of a metal mesh 2 meters high with barbed wire stretched from above, in some places with the current. As well as trenches, ditches, special structures, and video surveillance.
They got down to business with enthusiasm. The State Border Service was entrusted to equip 2,300 km of the border with Russia, and in the fall of 2014, the first UAH 100 million ($ 4.5 million) were allocated for the start of work. According to the plan, the "Wall" was to take place in Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, Luhansk, and Donetsk regions. It was also supposed to become the eastern border of Europe, hence another name - "European Wall". It was planned to complete the project in 2018 and spend 300 million USD on it.
Yatsenyuk talked about the project a lot and everywhere. The ex-prime minister said that among the main tasks of the Wall - security, defense against saboteurs and DRGs, stopping illegal migration, and arms trafficking. That is, in addition to defensive functions, there is also the fight against crime.
By the beginning of 2015, the project had been slightly finalized, and from 2015 to 2018, about 30% of the border was equipped. They began to build in the Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv regions. During this period of time, 45 million USD was spent – with this money, they laid anti-transport ditches, rocky roads, re-equipped 5 border units. And 16 million hryvnias were stolen. National Anti-Corruption Bureau started a corruption case in 2016 and completed it in 2018, reported on the detention of 8 people who were involved in the overstatement of the actual work performed, the misuse of funds, and other corruption abuses by 600 million USD.
At about the same time interval, 2017-2018, the "Wall" ceases to be "Yatsenyuk's Wall", and the project itself begins to be called differently – the intellectual border.
Of course, no one called press conferences on this matter, made no official statements, and did not send out any releases, just the officials at some point stopped calling the project to equip the border with the Russian Federation "Wall" and even less "Yatsenyuk's Wall". Yes, and Yatsenyuk himself ceased to be prime minister back in 2016.
So, for example, Petro Tsyhykal, who in 2018 led the State Border Service, told that there is an intellectual arrangement of the border, a project much more ambitious than just digging ditches and erecting walls, which, moreover, will not protect against invasion.
"With a massive armed, God forbid, invasion, we understand that no country has such structures that could protect against this. ...the main task is the intellectual protection of the border. This is tracking the situation, creating a system for obtaining information, the movement of people, vehicles, preventing the movement of RDGs, goods, cargo, illegal migrants. That is, a competent combination of technical capabilities and human potential. Technical means connected into a single complex are controlled from the center and make it possible to monitor the situation remotely, in real-time, to recognize threats and identify targets, as well as manage the response forces. The main priority for today is the eastern border," Tsyhykal said.
Moreover, he complained about the strong politicization of the project and insufficient funding: "Unfortunately, the politicization of this project significantly affects the pace of implementation. But we understand that this is a matter of national security, so it must be completed under any conditions."
A year later, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs Vadym Troyan also asked not to call the fence on the border a wall a year later: "You shouldn't call it a wall. This is the state border."
Minister of Internal Affairs Aren Avakov himself insisted on the extreme importance of the "intellectual component" in the framework of the arrangement of the border with Russia.
By the way, during 2018-2019, the work was almost completed only in the Kharkiv region. The necessary ditches were dug there and video surveillance systems were installed. There was not enough money for active work in the Chernihiv, Sumy, and Luhansk regions. The work and gaps in the legislation slowed down, they say, often the arrangement should take place on private land, and this issue can only be settled by the parliament, which is in no hurry to do this.
The cost of the project itself has also become smaller - it was reduced to 4 billion hryvnias, and the completion date of the project was postponed to 2021.
Engineering and technical arrangement of the state border
"Wall is associated only with negative manifestations," this is how the current head of the State Border Service Serhiy Deineko said a few weeks ago. He also developed the idea of his predecessor - it is impossible to build a sarcophagus that will 100% protect against Russian Iskander and tanks.
"Society should know that sabotage and reconnaissance groups, terrorists, undesirable persons, and contraband items will not be able to get to us from the Russian Federation ... This is exactly the kind of engineering arrangement we carry out. We equip an anti-tank ditch, a control strip, a road and we finish it all creation of a video surveillance system. That is, we build towers on which we install video cameras and thermal imagers, which constantly monitor the state border in a 24/7 format," Deineko explained popularly.
That is, as you may have guessed, by 2021 the engineering and technical arrangement of the border with Russia has not been completed. They want to extend the project until 2025 and thus extend this "pleasure" for 10 years. The implementation of this project is very important to us...
To date, officials no longer call the readiness of the project for the arrangement of the Ukrainian-Russian border in percentages, limiting themselves to only dry numbers that do not say anything to the ordinary man in the street. "Over the entire period of work, about 400 km of an anti-tank ditch, 330 km of a rockad road, 70 km of barbed wire, and 100 km of a metal fence have been equipped," Deineko said and added that work in the Kharkiv region is nearing completion. - Part of the work continued in the Chernihiv region. Last year, one site was equipped in the Luhansk region, and design and survey work is being carried out in the Sumy region. Engineering work has not yet begun there."
Well, as we can see, the enthusiasm has significantly diminished, the problems have increased significantly, but in fact, the cart, that is, the "wall", remained at the readiness level of 2018.
And only Arseniy Yatsenyuk either warns or threatens: “I have started this project. I believe that the state should complete it. Can't they do it sooner?"