Russia has turned Crimea from a popular beach resort into a military stronghold with satellite imagery showing the peninsular bristling with anti-tank obstacles and crisscrossed with fortified trench networks. Putin annexed Crimea in 2014 and with a coastline stretching 15 miles, the Kremlin’s military chief appears determined to leave no beach untouched as he prepares for a Ukrainian assault.
To begin with, there are concrete “dragon’s teeth” constructions along the shoreline that resemble pyramids. Tanks and other military vehicles are particularly prohibited from moving through these buildings.
There are several ditches or trenches that provide defence against incoming attackers behind the dragon’s fangs.
Along the trenches, it is also possible to see a number of bunkers that act as supplementary defensive positions.
The presence of stocks of dragon’s teeth, excavation equipment, and wood piles close to the coastline show that building work was going on when the picture was taken in March.
Given Ukraine’s limited naval capabilities, several military analysts believe the defensive steps taken are more likely a precaution than a sign that Russia anticipates defending against a marine assault.
The installation of these defences, according to intelligence analyst Layla Guest, is likely meant to deter any possible ambitious Ukrainian attempts to invade Crimea using sea-based rather than land-based strategies.
Ms Guest told the BBC: “The fortifications are likely in place to deter any bold Ukrainian operation to attack Crimea via the sea rather than on land.”
It comes amid Russia’s boast that it now controls the Ukrainian city of Bakhmut in the east after a bloody nine-month campaign that claimed the lives of tens of thousands of combatants, however senior military figures in Ukraine insist that the conflict is far from over.
Russian forces flee after being overwhelmed by Ukraine
Officials from Ukraine acknowledge that they presently only control a small area of Bakhmut.
However, they stress that the fighters’ presence has been essential to their plan to deplete the Russian military.
Additionally, they assert that their current positions in Bakhmut’s environs give them the capacity to conduct counterattacks within the city.
Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi, the commander of ground forces for the Ukrainian Armed Forces said: “Even though we currently have control over a limited part of Bakhmut, the significance of defending it remains relevant,”
“This positions us to enter the city if the situation changes, and that change will undoubtedly occur.”
It was unable to independently confirm the state of affairs in Bakhmut due to the fog of war. The city, according to the Russian defence ministry, had been taken over by Wagner mercenaries with the assistance of Russian forces.
Volodymyr Zelensky, the president of Ukraine, disputed Bakhmut’s total occupation.
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of Wagner, claimed that the city had fully fallen under Russian control at lunchtime on Saturday in a video posted to Telegram. He held a Russian flag in front of a group of at least nine masked fighters who were all equipped with body armour and powerful weaponry. Prigozhin said: “This afternoon at 12:00, Bakhmut was entirely taken.”
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