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30 Apr, 2023 13:30

Russian defenses spark skepticism over Ukrainian counteroffensive – CNN

The US media outlet cited analysis of satellite images featuring fortifications set up by Moscow’s troops in Zaporozhye Region
Russian defenses spark skepticism over Ukrainian counteroffensive – CNN

The Ukrainian military will have a hard time breaching Russian defenses built in Zaporozhye Region over the past six months, CNN has predicted. The media outlet cited satellite imagery apparently showing an extensive system of anti-tank ditches, obstacles, minefields and trenches.

In a report on Saturday, CNN described the Russian defenses as “elaborate” and spanning “hundreds of miles.” The media outlet claimed that they would likely “present a huge challenge” to Kiev’s forces in the event of a much-anticipated counteroffensive.

Citing images shared by Maxar Technologies and analysis by Reuters, the report found that “Russia’s positions are most concentrated near the front lines in the south-eastern Zaporozhye region, in the east and across the narrow strip of land connecting the Crimean Peninsula to the rest of Ukraine.

The Russian military has dug some 30 kilometers (19 miles) of anti-tank ditches near the town of Pology, with extra fortifications built around strategically important towns such as Tokmak, CNN noted.

The media outlet quoted a Maxar employee as saying that similar defensive structures have appeared over large swathes of Crimea and parts of Donetsk Region. The construction work began last November, soon after Russian troops retreated from the city of Kherson, according to CNN.

To succeed in their counteroffensive, Ukrainian forces would have to break through these defenses swiftly, which may prove to be challenging, CNN claimed.

Ukrainian officials quoted in the article acknowledged that it would likely be more difficult to take the Russians by surprise this time around.

Another factor which, according to CNN, could impede Kiev’s efforts to regain lost territory is Moscow’s continued air superiority.

Earlier this week, The New York Times published a report claiming that Ukrainian troops on the frontline recognise Russia's advantage in terms of artillery, tanks and aircraft.

The servicemen quoted by the newspaper said they needed “heavy equipment on the ground and support in the air” to turn the tide.

While claiming that the country’s military is all but ready to strike, Ukrainian Defense Minister Aleksey Reznikov has lamented a shortage of missiles for Soviet-designed air defense systems.

Meanwhile, Mikhail Podoliak, a top aide to Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky, has contradicted claims by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the head of US European Command, Christopher Cavoli, that Kiev’s backers had delivered 98% of the weapons pledged to Ukraine.