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Zelensky: Kharkiv Oblast fortifications strongest, other regions should follow suit

by Martin Fornusek December 19, 2023 6:56 PM 2 min read
A view from a freshly dug Ukrainian trench as Russian attacks on the city of Vuhledar continue in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on Dec. 1, 2023. (Andre Alves/Anadolu via Getty Images)
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As Ukraine continues fortifying its front lines, the most powerful defenses have been constructed in northeastern Kharkiv Oblast, President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Dec. 19, responding to a question from a Kyiv Independent journalist during an ongoing press conference in Kyiv.

With coming winter slowing down the pace of hostilities, a working group was established in late November to  "coordinate the efforts of all authorities and the military in matters of construction of fortifications."

The president said he has observed how, in Kharkiv and the adjacent region, the local administration closely cooperated with the military, local businesses, and state enterprises to build powerful defenses.

"When I see this there but not in other oblasts, I ask concrete questions of our military leaders in other sectors: Is it sufficient?... and why is it weaker there than in Kharkiv Oblast?" Zelensky said.

The president said he asked the military to unify the level of fortifications in various sectors to reach the same standards.

Responding to a question by the Kyiv Independent journalist about why Ukraine passed a decision on fortifications only recently, Zelensky said the efforts have been ongoing since the start of the full-scale war, and the recent measure serves to further reinforce the defenses.

The president did not respond to the question of whether the fortifications are meant to be on the same level as Russian front-line defenses built in the occupied parts of southern Ukraine throughout the year.

Ukraine finally moves to fortify front line, but could it be too little too late?
“If you want to live, dig.” The words, often spoken by Ukrainian troops, are universal advice for trench warfare in general, but especially for both sides in Russia’s war against Ukraine. Normally expressed as advice to the individual soldier, the maxim now applies to the country as a whole.
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