Journalists and military are under pressure in Ukraine for covering the topic of defense fortifications – Investigative Info

The Parliament of Ukraine has created a temporary special commission (TSC) to investigate the construction of fortifications in Kharkiv region. The State Bureau of Investigation is also investigating the quality of the fortifications. At the same time, the military is forbidden to discuss this issue in interviews, and journalists are accused of bias and playing along with Russian narratives when they mention the problem.

Journalists of “Slidstvo.Info” talked to the military of three different brigades of the Defense Forces that defend Kharkiv region. The command held “educational conversations” with some of them and advised them not to discuss the fortifications with journalists.

“We were not directly gathered, but all those who say something about the fortifications or know (commanders – ed.) what they can say, they were talked to,” said one of the fighters.

We do not disclose the names of the units or the names or call signs of the soldiers in order not to expose them to pressure from their command. We emphasize that this material does not depict the overall picture of the readiness of the defense lines in the region, but talks about censorship and pressure on military personnel and journalists to cover the issue.

Problems with fortifications

The Russian offensive in the north of Kharkiv region, which began in May, was met by Defense Forces brigades that were redeployed to reinforce it. The military was able to hold back the enemy’s advance, but the Russians still advanced in the area of Vovchansk and the Lipetsk community. This sparked talk about the quality of the fortifications that have been built since 2022.

On May 13, the head of the Anti-Corruption Center “Mezha” in a column for Ukrayinska Pravda claimed that the Kharkiv Military District paid millions to fictitious companies for fortifications. The Kharkiv Anti-Corruption Center estimated that more money was spent on wood for fortifications than in Dnipropetrovs’k and Donetsk regions. The SBU also became interested in possible price gouging.

Military complaints about fortifications

Denys Yaroslavskyi, commander of the Ukrainian Armed Forces intelligence unit, stated on May 12 that street fighting was taking place in Vovchansk and that there were no fortifications or mines on the border of the region, which was crossed by the occupiers. The National Guard unit “Ostrii Kartuzy” reported that the Ukrainian military had withdrawn from some positions.

After that, journalists were banned from working with the military in this area, and some soldiers were given “educational talks”.

“They told me not to mention the fortifications, the offensive, the lost villages. They told me not to bring anything to the public. They didn’t give any reasons. They only said that you were working for the enemy. And the fortifications are very bad, we have to rebuild everything,” said one of the soldiers.

Cases of the military completing positions on their own are not uncommon. One of the units told that they had to be housed in an old Russian dugout because new fortifications were not completed.

Another soldier noted that this situation occurred due to underestimation of the enemy.

“To hold back such a strong enemy, we need a lot of fortifications. They were not designed for this number of people, so the guys are digging dugouts and trenches,” he said.

Reaction to criticism

After the release of the the CNN story, in which a soldier of the 13th National Guard Brigade “Charter” emphasizes the lack of prepared fortifications, the unit stated that these statements are allegedly false and biased.

They also tried to influence the material of journalists concerning fortifications in Kharkiv region. They asked to remove all references to problems with the fortifications. They tried to convince the journalists for three days, claiming that this was a “political issue” and that mentioning specific units could lead to “pressure on them from above.”


Today, the Ukrainian authorities continue to cover up corruption and “make money on the war” with particular cynicism. When the public raises these issues, there are immediately accusations that this is a “Russian IPSO” or “you are working for the enemy.” Unfortunately, the so-called office of the President of Ukraine has not learned to work for the benefit of the Ukrainian people and, especially, the army, continuing to steal on a particularly large scale under the cover of war. Journalists are faced with a situation where they either have to keep silent about the issues of fortifications and corruption, or talk about the problems and face a ban on work, or, in general, open harassment and “busification.” In any case, the problems remain, and the front line is shifting not in Ukraine’s favor.

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