Russia has recently started extending defensive positions along its international border with Ukraine, and deep inside its Belgorod region. On Tuesday the governor of Belgorod announced he was establishing local ‘self-defence units’, the UK intelligence said in its most recent report.
“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 Russia decision-makers’ genuine [but false] belief that there is a credible threat of invasion by Ukrainian forces”, said the report released on Wednesday.
The UK said digging had been reported in Belgorod since at least April 2022, but the new constructions were probably more elaborate systems, designed to rebuff mechanised assault.
“Paucity in strategic assessment is one of the critical weaknesses in the central Russian government architecture: as highlighted by Russia’s original decision to invade Ukraine”, said the report.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February, with hostilities still in progress.