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As Ukraine mulls security, some say build a wall with Russia


(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.


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.


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 signalled 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 Kiev'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 Kiev pensioner.

Join the discussion

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xbluboy June 17 2014 at 3:25 PM

Why can't we do this with Mexico??

Flag Reply +32 rate up
28 replies
s4296ee June 17 2014 at 3:30 PM

I agree with the earlier comment- why don't we build this type of wall on the Mexican Boarder?

Flag Reply +23 rate up
5 replies
socraticknight June 17 2014 at 3:48 PM

the US should build one for its southern border. it is estimated that 100,000 illegal alien children, that the idiot and gullible liberals call "dreamers", are going to make it into the US by year's end. more will make it next year, because sellout asinine lib politician that are slaves to the large hispanic voting base that they allowed to control them don't want to send them back. the dumbocrats don't realize the parents of the illegals will know they will be asked to come to the US to support their kids. if entire families are asked to immigrate to the US to support the illegal "bait", it might mean over a million immigrants will be added to the welfare system in just two years. STOP BENDING OVER, LIBS! the US taxpayer already has a $17+ trillion national debt. once it's $20 trillion, we can only pay off its interest. illegals will break the bank. VOTE TEA PARTY TO SAVE THE USA! blacks are shooting themselves in the foot by voting for democrats, and will loose good jobs

Flag Reply +13 rate up
8 replies
krs June 17 2014 at 3:33 PM

This is NOT like the "Berlin Wall" This wall will be built to keep out
invaders, unlike the "Berlin Wall" which was installed to keep people
from escaping to freedon.

Flag Reply +11 rate up
6 replies
bearmeans June 17 2014 at 3:15 PM

sure obama will loan you the money !!

Flag Reply +10 rate up
4 replies
pflannigan June 17 2014 at 3:33 PM

There was nothing in this article about the USA, about President Obama, about funding from any other source other than the Ukrainian millionaire. But an IDIOT must say something about Obama. Face...regardless of anything that goes on...bad or bad...or otherwise...you idiot conservative fanatics will attach the President to it. And never ever give credit for anything good. So your views are useless and a waste of space. When are you going to face your stupidity.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
13 replies
Jim June 17 2014 at 5:01 PM

How about the same wall along our Southern Border? Sounds like a plan!

Flag Reply +8 rate up
2 replies
CHRISTOPHER RAY Jim June 17 2014 at 6:15 PM

the war is over we might as well just open the boarders, they win its too late, when illigal criminals are protected by federal law

Flag Reply +1 rate up
Kate Jim June 17 2014 at 8:19 PM

We already have one and it doesn't work.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
whatupboy June 17 2014 at 3:16 PM

keep the war pigs out..build a wall..the extremist only want the land and money..they oust a group and move in..just like in Kosova..and in Iraq..and any place where war pigs steal what they can...they claim it in "Interest of the race or religion or nation ideology..build the wall...

Flag Reply +7 rate up
lightyrs1 June 17 2014 at 3:30 PM

Sounds like a good idea. I'm all for walls...if you prove you can act like a decent human being, then you're allowed in....otherwise, Nyet!

Flag Reply +5 rate up
2 replies
Madeline lightyrs1 June 17 2014 at 4:21 PM

You've hit on the absolutely most important thing that the few remaining civilized countries look for before they welcome you. Race, ethnicity or any other lawful identifiable trait mean nothing in choosing future citizens wanting to come in. Bedrock values and attitude, compatible with the vision, values, and behavior of the majority of citizens is a total necessity. Otherwise you wind up with a huge, increasing, dog fight, on many levels. "Diversity" does not work unless it's under the rule of law, and the majority are pulling in the same direction on every major issue.

Flag Reply +2 rate up
cact25 lightyrs1 June 17 2014 at 6:39 PM

That is not enough of a reason. Go to the back of the line and wait your turn like the "legals" do. Another qualification is to be able to read and speak "English" or American.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
3 replies
tistolaugh June 17 2014 at 5:46 PM

Should someone let him know Russia has to ability to very easily "take down that wall" in about 5-seconds? lol

Flag Reply +5 rate up
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