News / Europe

Ukraine Mulls Security, Including Building Wall Along Russia Border

Ukrainian soldiers man a checkpoint outside the town of Amvrosiivka, eastern Ukraine, close to the Russian border, June 5, 2014.
Ukrainian soldiers man a checkpoint outside the town of Amvrosiivka, eastern Ukraine, close to the Russian border, June 5, 2014.
Reuters
Ukraine's leaders are puzzling over how to cut off Russian support for a separatist rebellion in the east of the country but one of its richest men thinks he has the answer.
 
Billionaire businessman Ihor Kolomoisky has suggested building a wall along the almost 2,000 km (1,200-mile) land border with Russia to prevent fighters and weapons flooding in.
 
The idea may sound absurd but Kolomoisky has offered to stump up 100 million euros ($136 million) to fund the two-meter (six-feet) high, 25-30 cm (10-12 inch) thick wall of reinforced steel, complete with electronic alarms, trenches and minefields.
 
What's more, it's been done before. Israel has constructed a barrier to keep out Palestinian militants. China built the Great Wall to stop invaders. Soviet-led East Germany erected the Berlin Wall, though more to keep people in than out.
 
“We can take on this project from start to finish,” said Alexei Burik, deputy head of the Dnipropetrovsk region where Kolomoisky is the governor, offering to lead construction work.
 
President Petro Poroshenko may or may not be about to build such a wall but the growing discussion of the oligarch's idea highlights deep security concerns in Ukraine, three months after Russia annexed the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea.
 
The Russian invasion of east Ukraine expected by many Ukrainians has not come. But in several weeks of fighting, pro-Russian separatists have seized a number of border posts, enabling them to bring in weapons and other supplies.
 
Securing the long and winding, and notoriously porous, border has become Poroshenko's most pressing problem as he tries to put down the rebellion and hold Ukraine together.
 
Fighting near the border has been among the fiercest of the conflict and 30 servicemen were wounded overnight in new clashes in Luhansk, a border guard command center.
 
Publicity stunt?
 

Kolomoisky, a 51-year-old banking, media, energy and metallurgy magnate with a fortune estimated by Forbes magazine at $1.8 billion, has presented his plan to Poroshenko and reckons the wall can be built in about six months.
 
Some analysts dismiss the idea as a stunt.
 
“In the short term, it cannot be done,” said Volodymyr Fesenko of the Penta think tank. Another analyst, Mykhailo Pohrebinsky, said: “This is a public relations campaign meant to consolidate Kolomoisky's image as a Ukrainian patriot.”
 
Despite such criticism, the proposal is not being dismissed in parliament as a crackpot idea.
 
“Whether or not it is Kolomoisky's project, a wall will be built to defend Ukraine from Russia's aggression,” said Ivan Stojko, a parliamentary deputy from the Batkyvshina party led by former prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
 
Pavlo Rizanenko, a deputy from the Udar (Punch) party of former boxing champion Vitaly Klitschko, said: “I don't think Poroshenko has a monopoly on this idea. It's something that should have been done long ago.”
 
The sight of rebels driving tanks in east Ukraine last Thursday increased the urgency of securing control of the border. Two days later, the rebels shot down a military plane with a missile, killing 49 servicemen.
 
Russia says it is not providing military support for the rebellion across much of the Donbass mining region. But its denials were undermined by satellite pictures released by NATO showing what it said were Russian tanks at a staging area close to the border days before similar tanks appeared in Ukraine.
 
The United States has also accused Moscow of supplying the rebels with T-64 tanks, MB-21 “Grad” multiple rocket launchers and other military vehicles.
 
Secure border before truce

 
Poroshenko, who replaced a Moscow-leaning president toppled in February after street protests, has ordered the armed forces to secure the frontier and says a 250-km (160-mile) stretch of the border has already been taken back. Once the border is secure, a truce can start and peace talks begin, he said.
 
His comments signaled a continuation of his dual policy of talking peace while pressing a military campaign in the east.
 
He wants Ukraine to demarcate the border on its own side, and build unspecified infrastructure there, which could mean erecting fences in villages that straddle the border.
 
Andriy Parubiy, the secretary of Ukraine's Security Council, estimated Russia had 16,000 soldiers on or near the border with Ukraine and 22,000 in Crimea, plus 3,500 in Moldova's breakaway Transdniestria region to the west.
 
Russia has balked at Kyiv's proposals for tightening border security and says its moves are meant to fuel tension. But for some Ukrainians, building a wall has a clear appeal.
 
“Either we build a wall and forget about Russia, or let these madmen in Donbass live under (Russian President Vladimir) Putin. I'd prefer the wall and would be ready to give them some money to help build it,” said Irina Sorokun, a Kyiv pensioner.

You May Like

HRW: Egypt's Trial of Morsi ‘Badly Flawed’

Human Rights Watch says former Egypt leader's detention without charge for more than three weeks after his removal from office violated Egyptian law; government rejects criticism More

Photogallery Lancet Report Calls for Major Investment in Surgery

In its report published by The Lancet, panel of experts says people are dying from conditions easily treated in the operating room such as hernia, appendicitis, obstructed labor, and serious fractures More

Music Industry Under Sway of Digital Revolution

Millions of people in every corner of the Earth now can enjoy a vast variety and quantity of music in a way that has never before been possible More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Igor from: Russia
June 20, 2014 12:23 AM
To: Stan Willmann fromSan Francisco

I disagree with you. Those in power in Kiev must blame themselves for any trouble in Ukraine. They are only a gang of corrupted, greedy, barbaric people who pay no attention to the will of Ukrainian people at all.
As to corruption in Russia, especially in Sochi, can you give out any evidence of it or you just listen to Western media, which tends to turn a blind eye to its new ally's crimes against humanity.
As to Crimea, Russia only took back the land which was robbed illegally from Russia (by a Ukrainian Soviet leader by force agianst the will of its people).
If Kiev continues to kill its own people in the East, Russia will have no other way but to destroy the Ukraine's army completely. without invading Ukraine.

by: Igor from: Russia
June 18, 2014 4:58 AM
Building a 2000 km wall alongside Russian border will creat much more chance for corruption for those in power in Kiev. Those billionair businessmen will draw huge amounts of money from that stupid project to make them much richer and make other Urainians much poorer. Are they considering building "the 8th wonder of the world"? Stupid idea!
In Response

by: Stan Willmann from: San Francisco
June 18, 2014 8:57 PM
Igor, from Russia:
Your wonderful King Putin is leaving the people of Ukraine no choice but to build such a wall. Putin honors no agreements he makes (with anyone) and continues to allow Russian citizens, arms, equipment and now tanks to freely roll into the sovereign country of Ukraine. Just last week, Putin agreed to enforce border crossings. His agreement immediately violated.
Corruption is a fact of life in Russia and Ukraine. Did all of Putin's spending on the Sochi Olympics go to actual construction? Of course not. Many of his friends made huge profits while destroying the Sochi area. For what?
The people of Ukraine are tired of all these Russian paid masked gunmen entering their territory to create havoc. Putin took Crimea (unlawfully), but has no interest in taking more of Ukraine. Why? He simply can't afford it! Financially, politically and logistically. Crimea still functions with fresh water and electrical power furnished by Ukraine. Putin has no means to provide these services from Russia. Bow down all you want to your King! His dream is coming to an end, just like his old Soviet Union buddies. Talk big, but can't deliver.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populationsi
X
April 24, 2015 10:13 PM
A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Study: Insecticide Damaging Wild Bee Populations

A popular but controversial type of insecticide is damaging important wild bee populations, according to a new study. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Data Servers Could Heat Private Homes

As every computer owner knows, when their machines run a complex program they get pretty hot. In fact, cooling the processors can be expensive, especially when you're dealing with huge banks of computer servers. But what if that energy could heat private homes? VOA’s George Putic reports that a Dutch energy firm aims to do just that.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.

VOA Blogs