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Trench digging has been reported in Russia’s Belgorod Oblast, a region bordering Ukraine, since at least April 2022, but the new constructions are probably more elaborate systems designed to rebuff mechanized assault, the U.K. Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence update.
On Dec. 6, the Belgorod governor announced the establishment of local so-called “self-defense units,” and there is “a realistic possibility that the Russian authorities are promoting defensive preparations within internationally recognized Russian territory to burnish patriotic feeling,” the ministry said.
“However, it probably illustrates some Russia decision-makers genuine (but false) belief that there is a credible threat of invasion by Ukrainian forces,” the update reads.
The Belgorod Oblast borders Ukraine’s Kharkiv Oblast, most of which Ukraine liberated from Russian occupation in early September. The liberated villages are still frequently shelled by Russian forces.