KIEV, May 5. /TASS/. Ukraine has dug out about 400 kilometers of anti-tank trenches on the border with Russia under a project codenamed Wall, Sergey Deineko, who heads the state border guard service, said on Wednesday.
"From the moment Project Wall kicked off, about 400 kilometers of anti-tank trenches, 330 kilometers of parallel roads, 70 kilometers of tangled barbed wire and a 100-kilometer long steel fence have been built," Deineko told the RBC-Ukraine news agency.
Originally, the project’s costs were estimated at more than 4 hryvnias (about $143 million). The budget was eventually slashed to 2.5 billion hryvnias (about $90 million).
As of today, about 2 billion hryvnias has been shelled out. This year’s expenditures are estimated at 338 million hryvnias (about $12 million - TASS).
Deineko said the fortification work was nearing completion in the Kharkov Region and was well underway in the Chernigov Region. Project and exploration endeavors are in progress in the Sumy Region, but engineering works have not begun there yet.
Ukraine’s former prime minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, laid out Project Wall in 2014 as a line of fortifications on the border with Russia 2,000 kilometers long. Originally, it was to be completed within a six-month deadline, but then the project was extended to 2018, then to 2021 and finally, to 2025.
In March 2016, Ukraine’s National Anti-Corruption Bureau launched criminal proceedings over 16.7 million hryvnias (about $623,000) being stolen from the project’s budget. In 2017, eight suspects involved in the corruption scheme were arrested. Detectives say that a number of officials in Ukraine’s border guard service and businesses overstated the amount of work done and also used fly-by-night companies to siphon off project funds. Some accounting reports mentioned works that had never been carried out at all.