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Ukraine opens investigation into improper organization of defenses in Kharkiv Oblast

by Nate Ostiller and The Kyiv Independent news desk May 25, 2024 1:46 PM 2 min read
The second line of fortifications is under construction along the border with Russia in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukraine, on March 12, 2024. Photo for illustrative purposes. (Vyacheslav Madiyevskyy/Ukrinform/Future Publishing via Getty Images)
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Ukraine's State Bureau of Investigation opened an inquiry into the 125th Brigade and its subordinate units over the lack of preparedness and improper organization of defenses in Kharkiv Oblast, Ukrainska Pravda reported on May 25, citing court documents filed earlier.

Russia launched a new offensive on May 10 in northern Kharkiv Oblast, focusing its efforts in the directions of Lyptsi and Vovchansk, settlements a few miles south of the Russia-Ukraine border.

Moscow's forces advanced as far as 10 kilometers (6 miles) into the region but were halted by the first line of defense, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on May 17.

According to the preliminary investigation detailed in the court document, the 125th Brigade and its subordinate units "did not properly organize the defense of positions on the border of Kharkiv Oblast" due to a "careless attitude to military service."

The resulting Russian offensive "led to the loss of positions, military equipment, and personnel of the units," the court document continued.

The investigators also said that other positions were "abandoned" by Ukrainian defenders.

The investigation will look into the actions of close to 30 commanders and officials from the 125th Brigade and its subordinate units and determine whether there was a causal link between their actions and the subsequent Ukrainian losses.

It is considered a criminal investigation. The document does not specify the potential penalties or punishment if criminal guilt is determined.

Ukrainian lawmakers told Politico earlier in May that the U.S. ban on using Western weapons at the Russian troops massed across the border in Russia contributed to the early successes of the offensive in Kharkiv Oblast.

At the same time, Ukrainian military commander Denys Yaroslavskyi told the BBC in an interview published on May 13 that the Russian breakthrough was the result of Ukrainian defenders' lack of preparedness.

"There was no first line of defense. We saw it. The Russians just walked in. They just walked in, without any mined fields," Yaroslavskyi said.

"Either it was an act of negligence, or corruption. It wasn't a failure. It was a betrayal," he added.

Russia’s latest offensive into Kharkiv Oblast is stretching Ukrainian defenses
Russia’s two-pronged assault in Kharkiv Oblast that began on May 10 is exploiting Ukraine’s troop shortage, forcing it to make difficult decisions about where to commit reserves. Two weeks into the offensive, one group of Russian forces is already fighting in the streets of the town of Vovchansk
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