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Smart Bombs: Military, Defense and National Security

Is Putin Building His Very Own Maginot Line in Ukraine?

Russian artillery firing in Ukraine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The conflict in Ukraine entered its ninth month, and things look a whole lot different from when the first Russian troops crossed the border on that fateful Thursday on February 24.

On day 242 of the war in Ukraine, the Russian military is desperately trying to stop the Ukrainian counteroffensives in the east and the south while persisting in its attempts to capture Bakhmut in the Donbas despite the lack of any strategic value.

Russian Casualties in Ukraine 

Overall, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense claimed that as of Monday, Ukrainian forces have killed approximately 67,940 Russian troops (and wounded approximately thrice that number), destroyed 270 fighter, attack, and transport jets, 245 attack and transport helicopters, 2,590 tanks, 1,673 artillery pieces, 5,295 armored personnel carriers and infantry fighting vehicles, 375 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), 16 boats and cutters, 4,044 vehicles and fuel tanks, 189 anti-aircraft batteries, 1,370 tactical unmanned aerial systems, 149 special equipment platforms, such as bridging vehicles, and four mobile Iskander ballistic missile systems, and 350 cruise missiles shot down by the Ukrainian air defenses.

Russia’s Maginot Line 

The Russian military is learning from its mistakes and is setting up a defense line in the east along the Luhansk province in Ukraine.

A common theme in the recent counteroffensives of the Ukrainian forces was that the Russian military didn’t have a solid (or any at all) second line of defense to fall back on once the first line was breached. This can quickly result in a route as units don’t have anywhere to gather and fight together. The Russians are trying to amend that by creating a defensive line in the east.

“On 19 October, Wagner Group owner Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed online that his engineering team were constructing an extensive fortified ‘Wagner Line’ of defences in Russian-occupied Luhansk Oblast, and posted a map showing the planned extent of the project,” the British Military Intelligence assessed in its latest estimate of the war.

Satellite imagery and video footage from the ground show that the Russian mercenaries are using concrete blocks and trenches to create an anti-tank defensive line. Whether that strategy is effective against an adversary with highly accurate long-range fires, is another question.

“If the plans are as extensive as Prigozhin claims, the works likely aim to integrate the Siversky Donetsk river into the defensive zone, partially following the 2015 Line of Control,” the British Military Intelligence added.

“The project suggests Russia is making a significant effort to prepare defences in depth behind the current front line, likely to deter any rapid Ukrainian counter offensives,” the British Military Intelligence assessed.

Ukraine War: Sowing Division 

Over the weekend, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held an unprecedented, considering the situation in Ukraine, round of calls with Western and Turkish defense leaders. Shoigu spoke with U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, British Secretary of Defense Ben Wallace, French Minister of Defense Sebastian Lecornu, and Turkish Minister of Defense Hulusi Akar.

“Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu likely sought to slow or suspend Western military aid to Ukraine and possibly weaken the NATO alliance in scare-mongering calls with several NATO defense ministers on October 23,” the Institute for the Study of War assessed in its latest operational update on the war.

Expert Biography: A 19FortyFive Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist specializing in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business InsiderSandboxx, and SOFREP.

1945’s Defense and National Security Columnist, Stavros Atlamazoglou is a seasoned defense journalist with specialized expertise in special operations, a Hellenic Army veteran (national service with the 575th Marine Battalion and Army HQ), and a Johns Hopkins University graduate. His work has been featured in Business Insider, Sandboxx, and SOFREP.