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Ukraine increases eastern border security

Отправлено 17 янв. 2015 г., 06:50 пользователем Master Admin

Ukraine increases eastern border security

Украинские пограничники проезжают на бронетранспортёрах через недавно построенную часть таможенного пункта пропуска «Гоптовка» на украино-российской границе к северу от Харькова на востоке Украины. [Агентство Франс Пресс]Ukrainian border guards drive armoured personnel carriers past a newly constructed part of the Goptivka crossing on the Urkainian-Russian border, north of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine. [AFP]
International aid and new reforms will help Ukraine strengthen control of its border with Russia, officials and political analysts say.

According to experts, the main problem along the Ukrainian-Russian border is that the demarcation line between the countries is constantly violated because Russia doesn't make any effort to prevent dangerous elements from travelling into Ukraine from its territory.

Experts said it is not easy to monitor and control the borderline under such circumstances, and it requires a totally new approach for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine.

"The main problem of border control is the lack of a basic principle of the boundary, which is when two states are responsible for the border. But in this case we have a war with a neighbour. When we try to close the problem parts of the border, the other side facilitates opening them," Oleksiy Melnyk, co-director of Foreign Relations and International Security Programmes at the Razumkov Centre, told SETimes.

Experts said Ukraine is learning to live under the constant threat of aggression from its eastern neighbour. Ukraine set up several mobile check points at the entrance to Crimea after Russia's annexation of the peninsula, and Ukraine controls most of that border, but a significant part of the Russian-Ukraine border remains under the control of Kremlin-backed separatists.

The international community has accused Russia of violating its border with Ukraine, and Western allies are helping Ukraine to deal with the growing issue. Ukraine's border service recently received 35 armoured off-road vehicles and 2,300 pieces of personal protective equipment from the United States.

Andriy Demchenko, spokesman for the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine, said all equipment and international assistance goes directly to the country's east.

"All will depart to the eastern border area for patrolling between checkpoints," Demchenko toldSETimes. "Armoured vehicles are not required for peaceful areas, we need it [in the east] to increase the efficiency of border monitoring and to protect the State Border Guard Service staff."

According to Ukrainian authorities, the country expects more border security assistance this year. It is planning to send an additional $10 million of aid to the east, including automotive equipment for border guards, thermal imaging devices, portable and fixed radios and personal protective equipment.

The assistance received from Ukraine's allies, especially armoured vehicles that are crucial for patrolling dangerous parts of the border, has already saved hundreds of border guards' lives, officials said.

"When bombs go off, or when our staff got ambushed, armoured equipment showed its efficiency in these areas of the border," said Oleksiy Khokhlov, chief of the use of mobile units and reserves with the State Border Guard Service's department of border protection.

Experts said previous reform of the state border service that targeted the demilitarisation of the structure left border guards without special equipment. But now, when border guards are not only patrolling the border, but actually defending it from well-armed separatists, the Western assistance and modern border-controlling systems are crucial to fulfil the mission, specialists said.

"As for the technical equipment, state border service doctrine changed from being defence structure to becoming police structure," Melnyk said. "Now it is again necessary to defend the border. But this decision requires additional support for border guards. We should extinguish the fire."

Melnyk said in the future the border service should be demilitarised and aim to control the border. However, "certain areas" of the eastern border "should be controlled by troops, where there is a task of preventing infiltration of terrorists," he said.

With the assistance of different volunteer organisations, Ukrainian soldiers who guard the line near the occupied territories set up their own strategy to monitor border-crossing activity.

Serhiy Moroz, a soldier with the Aidar volunteer battalion, located in the suburbs of Shcastia, said soldiers are creating special "secret" groups that mask and monitor movement on the border.

"Separatists attempt to cross the line only at night and wearing special clothes that protect from night vision devices," Moroz told SETimes. "Group of soldiers hide, sit and wait. If soldiers see unidentified movement they take measures. These groups operate quite successfully. For example, in town of Shcastia and its suburbs there was no serious sabotage."

Ukrainian soldiers have built block posts on main roads along the border. On-going reconstruction and recent engineering works have increased the defence capacity of these posts, providing better protection from terrorists' artillery.

"The defence line has improved significantly compared to the beginning of the autumn," Moroz said.

Despite this, saboteurs still have an opportunity to penetrate into Ukrainian territory. Moroz said it is difficult in such a short term to organise efficient monitoring of the border. There are still many factors allowing terrorists to cross the border.

"It is a huge area, there is a natural landscape that makes it possible to penetrate Ukraine," he said. "For example forests, there are many forests and it is impossible to control everything."

According to materials