On Tuesday, a British Defence intelligence update reported that Russia is building defensive fortifications far behind the front lines in Ukraine. The report comes as it now appears inevitable that Russia will retreat from Ukraine’s second city, Kherson, and the west bank of the Dnipro, the country’s major river.
The structures are being built around Mariupol on the south-east coast and Lukhansk. This suggests that following the retreat from Kherson, Russia expects these areas to soon see front-line fighting.
The fortifications are known as ‘dragon’s teeth’, described as ‘concrete pyramidal anti-tank structures’ by British defence analysis. They are expected to be interspersed with barbed wire and landmines, a horrible legacy for Russia to be leaving the Ukrainians, given that such mines remain active in the ground for decades.
Australian defence analyst Mick Ryan linked the defensive construction to the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of conscripts, with hundreds of thousands more having fled the country. Static defence around such structures is a far more manageable task for these troops than mobile defence.
All of this points to the superiority of the Ukrainian forces in mobile confrontations at present. However, the war has recently taken on a new dimension with Russian targeting of civilian infrastructure, which is caused widespread outages to power and water for Ukrainians.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian spokespersons remain adamantly opposed to a ceasefire, and say they will continue to counter-attack until reaching the country’s 2014 borders. This means evicting Russian forces from Donetsk and Lukhansk as well as the Crimea peninsula.
In a lengthy interview, Ukraine’s chief of intelligence has said Crimea will face Ukrainian offensives ‘next year’. He also refused to confirm or deny involvement in a series of blasts in the Russian city of Belgorod, a supply hub for Russian forces in Ukraine.
Finally, Ukraine also received a further USD $400 million in defence assistance from the United States last Friday. The country’s total military aid to Ukraine now tops USD $18.2 billion.
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Feature image of Kyiv courtesy of @diesektion via Unsplash.
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