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27 May, 2024 17:53

Ukraine investigating Kharkov Region commanders

Almost 30 officers have been blamed for the Russian advance
Ukraine investigating Kharkov Region commanders

The State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) in Kiev has confirmed that dozens of Ukrainian officers in Kharkov Region are under investigation for desertion and dereliction of duty.

As Russian forces advanced from the border with Ukraine, Kiev rushed reserves to the newly opened front and accused the local units of the Armed Forces of Ukraine of failing to hold the line.

“Given the importance of the proceedings, the best investigators and the leadership of the Main Investigative Department of the SBI are involved in the investigation, and there is a close interaction with the operative units of the SBU,” the agency said in a statement on Monday, referring to the State Security Service of Ukraine, the country's successor to the KGB.

The investigation has the full support of the AFU General Staff as well as regional commands, the SBI added.

While the SBI has not offered any further details, the Ukrainian outlet Glavkom noted last Thursday that 28 officers are facing charges of desertion or dereliction of duty. Citing court documents, the outlet identified the suspected unit as the 125th Separate Territorial Defense Brigade.

Unit brigade commanders as well as those from the 415th and 172nd rifle battalions and the 23rd mechanized brigade subordinate to it, “allegedly failed to properly organize the defense of positions along the border,” Glavkom reported. During the Russian advance, elements of the named AFU units “abandoned combat positions” in five villages, leaving the second-line units to fight.

As part of the investigation, the regional SBI office in Poltava reportedly seized a number of classified military documents, including the communications of the commanders involved and reports on fortifications, manpower, weapons and supplies of their units on May 10, when the Russian operation began. If convicted, the officers involved face up to ten years in prison.

The 125th brigade has rejected the accusations, insisting that all of its defenses were ready and that no one fled from their frontline position. Lieutenant-General Arthur Gorbenko, the brigade commander, blamed “individuals on social networks” for spreading misinformation about the AFU preparedness, “or even worse, about the retreat of individual units from the defense lines entrusted to them,” according to a Facebook post.

As Ukrainian reserves rushed to the northern front, the Russians advanced in a dozen places elsewhere along the line, capturing the strategically important village of Klescheevka near Chasov Yar.