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Russia scrambles to build trenches on own border to see off Ukraine

Ukraine: Fox discusses impact of winter on Russian forces

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The MoD intelligence briefing has suggested the Russian military may be constructing an elaborate system of bunkers and earthworks around Belgorod in response to fears that Ukrainian forces may mount a cross-border offensive. Ukrainian forces have demonstrated the ability to strike targets within Russia, recently hitting airbases in the centre of the country in drone strikes.

In its latest update, the MoD stated: “Russia has recently started extending defensive positions along its international border with Ukraine, and deep inside its Belgorod region.

“On December 6, 2022, the governor of Belgorod announced he was establishing local ‘self-defence units.’ 

“Trench digging has been reported in Belgorod since at least April 2022, but the new constructions are probably more elaborate systems. designed to rebuff mechanised assault.”

The defensive constructions could be a bid by Russian authorities to rally morale within Russia and increase support for the war effort, the MoD suggested. 

The MoD note continued: “There is a realistic possibility that the Russian authorities are promoting defensive preparations within internationally recognised Russian territory to burnish patriotic feeling.

“However, it probably illustrates some Russian decision-makers genuine (but false) belief that there is a credible threat of invasion by Ukrainian forces.

“Paucity in strategic assessment is one of the critical weaknesses of the central Russian government architecture: as highlighted by Russia’s original decision to invade Ukraine.

“Impartial official analysis is almost certainly frequently undermined by a tendency toward group-think and politically expedient conclusions.”

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It comes as Russia continues to suffer heavy losses in Ukraine with Defence Minister Advisor Yuriy Sak claiming Putin is “losing” his grip on occupied territories.

Ukrainian Defence Minister Advisor Yuriy Sak has said the Russian military is losing manpower at a massive rate as 500 soldiers are killed a day.

The Kremlin is facing a struggle to hold the frontlines in the remaining land under Russia’s control amid repeated attempts at counter-attacks by Ukrainian forces.

Mr Sak told Sky News Australia: “In the past couple of weeks, they continue to lose the temporarily occupied territories. Russian soldiers have been dying on the battlefield on average … 500 soldiers a day, we’ve destroyed now over 90,000 Russian soldiers.”

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On Monday, Ukraine managed to strike deep into Russia with drones striking two air bases.

The Engels base in the Saratov region was hit along with the Dyagilevo airbase in Ryazan, killing three Russian soldiers and wounding four more.

In response to the strikes, the Russian military launched a salvo of missiles at cities across Ukraine targetting the electricity system. 

The Russian military continues to be on high alert as suspected Ukrainian drones prove able to penetrate air defence networks around key sites. 

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