Ukraine says its preparations for a spring counter-offensive are almost complete. When it’s launched, probably in the south, it will mark a pivotal moment in the conflict. But the Russians have had nearly six months to prepare the ground – and build an elaborate array of defenses. Breaking through will present a huge challenge.
Satellite imagery reviewed by CNN and other news organizations shows the extent of Russian defenses that have been built up in parts of southern Ukraine – layers of anti-tank ditches, obstacles, minefields and trenches.
The defenses continue for hundreds of miles across the meandering southern front – where Ukrainian forces are expected to concentrate their counter-offensive in the coming weeks.
The challenge for the Ukrainians will be to bypass or overcome such obstacles at speed, creating momentum that causes Russian command and control to melt down.