Home » Russia installs ‘dragon’s teeth’ barriers to slow advance of Ukrainian forces

Russia installs ‘dragon’s teeth’ barriers to slow advance of Ukrainian forces

by Mahmmod Shar

Large number of concrete blocks being constructed to hinder military vehicles in key locations, UK says

The Guardian

Russia is stepping up its efforts to build substantial obstacle barriers to slow the advance of Ukrainian forces in key locations it is defending, including around the devastated city of Mariupol, the UK Ministry of Defence has said.

Its intelligence assessment on Tuesday said the Russian military was using two plants in occupied Mariupol to produce large numbers of “dragon’s teeth” – pyramidal concrete blocks designed to slow advancing military vehicles.

In addition to on the crucial southern Kherson front on the east bank of the Dneiper River, the production and placement of the blocks alongside razor wire and mines is the most recent sign that Russia’s struggling forces are trying to shift to more defensive warfare.

Between Mariupol and Nikolske Village, as well as from Northern Mariupol to Staryi Krym Village, dragon’s teeth have probably been installed. Mariupol is a crucial communication and logistical link between Russia and Crimea known as the “land bridge.” Additionally, “dragon’s teeth have been sent for the construction of defensive fortifications in occupied Zaporizhzhia and Kherson,” according to the intelligence report.

“This activity suggests Russia is making a significant effort to prepare defences in depth behind their current frontline, likely to forestall any rapid Ukrainian advances in the event of breakthroughs.”

The Institute for the Study of War thinktank also noted the continuing efforts by Russia to improve its defences in the south. “Geolocated satellite imagery from 29 October, 3 November and 4 November shows Russian defensive lines in Kakhovka, 43 miles (70km) east of Kherson city, Hola Prystan, 5 miles south-west of Kherson city, and Ivanivka, 37 miles south-west of Kherson city – all of which lie on the east bank of the Dneiper River,” it said.

Typically used in conjunction with natural features, obstacle barriers are used to slow and block approaching enemy forces, and redirect them towards locations where they can be engaged.

Their deployment is part of the toolkit of many militaries, and experts point out that for them to be useful requires skilful placement of the barriers, as well as both effective observation and placement of artillery systems to guard them.

Retired Australian general Mick Ryan said the increasing Russian efforts to place obstacle barriers could reflect both military and domestic political needs.

“First, the construction on these obstacle belts demonstrates the political importance of the areas where they are being installed.

[…] An important point to note is that given the coming influx into Ukraine of large numbers of poorly trained, recently mobilised troops, the Russians probably believe they can substitute training for physical obstacles on the battlefield,” he tweeted.

“The big question in Ukraine is whether these obstacles have been designed and placed primarily for their military effect, or if they are purely there for a political narrative back in Russia.”

The MoD’s latest update came as Ukraine’s prime minister Denys Shmyhal said on Tuesday he saw no need at present to evacuate Kyiv or any other cities that are not near the front lines in the war against Russia.

He made his comments at a cabinet meeting following Russian attacks on Ukraine’s energy system, and after the mayor of Kyiv told residents to consider everything including a worst-case scenario where the capital loses power and water completely.

“Right now, the situation is far from (needing to) announce an evacuation,” Shmyhal said. “We must say that to announce the evacuation of any city not near the front lines, especially the capital, would not make any sense at present.”

The focus on Russia’s improvement of its defences came as Kremlin-installed authorities in Ukraine’s southern region of Kherson said that power had been fully restored to its main city, after blaming Kyiv for attacks that disrupted water and electricity supplies.

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Kherson city was the first urban hub to be captured by Russia after Moscow announced its “special military operation” in February and it has suffered outages after strikes on Sunday for which Moscow and Kyiv have traded blame.

“There is electricity, despite sabotage and attacks,” Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-appointed deputy head of the Kherson region, said on social media.

Ukraine troops have been pushing closer towards the city in recent months and its capture by Kyiv would be a significant defeat for Moscow.

The news on Sunday of the outages followed reports from Russian officials that the Kakhovka dam, also in Kherson, had been damaged by a Ukrainian strike.

The dam provides water to the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow annexed in 2014 and served as a base for the start of the Ukrainian campaign.

Separately, the Russian security services (FSB) reported that nine Ukrainian military personnel who were part of a “intelligence and sabotage group” had been detained.

In a statement, the FSB accused the group of organizing attacks against high-ranking Russian agents stationed in Kherson.

The FSB reported that during the arrests, explosives, grenades, ammunition, and a car bomb were found, and an inquiry into “international terrorism” was started.

Moscow’s forces claim to be transforming Kherson into a “fortress” as Ukraine pushes a counteroffensive in the south.

Since several weeks, they have planned “deportations” of civilians from the Kherson region as Ukrainian troops advance.

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