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Satellite images show Putin's £84million strongholds 'empty' after Ukraine breakthrough

NewsSatellite images show Putin's £84million strongholds 'empty' after Ukraine breakthrough

Vladimir Putin’s strongholds on the Ukrainian border appear empty as Russian casualties mount on the frontlines in Ukraine, satellite images show.

The news comes as Ukrainian forces smash through Russian lines in Verbove in Western Zaporizhzhia. Since June, Kyiv has been waging a gruelling counteroffensive which has seen high casualties on both sides.

The National Resistance Center of Ukraine released satellite imagery from Kursk Oblast, Russia on the border of Ukraine which appears to show defensive positions abandoned as soldiers are sent to heavy fighting on the southern and eastern fronts.

The Center reported: “The latest aerial reconnaissance data shows that almost all of the strongholds are deserted, with most of them overgrown with bushes.”

The false fortifications were built at a cost of 10 billion Rubles (around £84million), according to the Center which said they had to be abandoned as Russian soldiers were sent to fight in Zaporizhzhia and Donetsk.

The lack of border defences could leave the Russian homeland vulnerable to the types of raids by dissident Russian groups seen earlier this year.

Raids into the neighbouring Russian region of Belgorod by groups such as the Freedom of Russia Legion have brought the war home for Putin as well as Russians living in the oblast.

In a development that highlights the heavy fighting on the frontlines, Ukrainian forces appear to have broken through Russian defensive lines in Verbove, Zaporizhzhia Oblast.

The town has been under assault by Kyiv’s forces as they attempt to expand their breach near the recaptured nearby settlement of Robotyne.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW) – a think-tank covering the war in Ukraine – said it was now “prepared to assess that Ukrainian forces have broken through Russian field fortifications west of Verbove”.

However, the ISW warned that these were not the last prepared Russian defences in the area and it was unclear how quickly Kyiv’s forces were moving following the break.

Elsewhere in the country, there have been reports of Russian forces suffering staggering losses.

The recent capture of Klishchiivka and Andriivka – villages located on higher ground near Bakhmut – was seen as a key breakthrough on a front that has seen some of the heaviest fighting of the war.

During the battle, Ukrainian sources reported that the 72nd Motor Rifle Brigade as well as the elite 31st and 83rd Air Assault Brigades were “defeated and completely disabled”.

These brigades at full strength would have been made up of 2,000 to 8,000 Russian soldiers and their destruction would significantly weaken Russia’s position on the eastern front.

Russian sources have described brutal fighting on those lines with commanders sending underequipped men to slaughter.

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