Russian occupants build hundreds of kilometers of fortifications in Berdyansk raion

Concrete anti-tank pyramids, known as “dragon’s teeth”. Photo: screenshot of the video of Russian propagandists

Since September 2022, Russian troops have built fortifications even in their deep rear front. New defense lines, hundreds of kilometers long, are built in temporary occupied Berdyansk raion, as reports Sergii Starushko, correspondent of the Center for Journalist Investigations in Zaporizhzhia. 

Recent data of satellite Sentinel-2 demonstrate recent trenches being built around the largest villages of Berdyansk raion – Andriivka and Berestove (both are 40 kilometers to the north from Berdyansk). 

Northern part of Andriivka village with the longest defense line among neighboring villages. 07.07.2023. Photo by satellite Sentinel-2

*hereinafter yellow lines mark so-called «dragon’s teeth», white lines – trenches and anti-tank ditches 

Western part of Andriivka village and the road leading to Obitochne, Saltychia and Dakhgo villages. 07.07.2023. Photo by satellite Sentinel-2

As the Center for Journalist Investigations recently reported, Russian occupants dug not less than 30 kilometers of trenches in Berdyansk raion in May-June 2023. It is mainly about fortifications around Andriivka and Berestove villages. 

Trenches of Russian occupants in Berdyansk raion. Photo: screenshot of the video of Russian propagandists 

As of 07.07.2023, Russian troops keep constructing defense fortifications with the aim to encircle two villages with unified defense lines. 

Northern part of Berestove village, 07.07.2023. Photo by satellite Sentinel-2

Western part of Berestove village, 07.07.2023. Photo by satellite Sentinel-2

Eastern part of Berestove village, 07.07.2023. Photo by satellite Sentinel-2

The distance between two villages is 17 kilometers. It seems Russian occupants succeeded in constructing unified fortifications (trenches, anti-tank ditches, dragon’s teeth) around them. The landscape is full of rivers and deep ravines. It facilitates constructing defense fortifications. 

Approximate length of defense line from Berestove to Andriivka is 35 kilometers from the west to the east, according to calculations by the Center for Journalist Investigations. 

Satellite images from April to July 2023 demonstrate the chronology of constructing works in Berdyansk raion. 

Both settlements are located on regional roads connecting Berdyansk with Polohy (through Andriivka) and Kamyanka (through Berestove). Both roads cross the road Zaporizhzhia – Mariupol. 

Black color marks road Zaporizhzhia-Mariupol; brown – roads from Berdyansk to Andriivka and Berestove. Photo: Google Map

Russian soldiers have occupied houses in Andriivka and Berestove since spring 2023. There are warehouses of munitions. They have been destroyed by Ukrainian rockets once per week.

There are profiles of both villages on the interactive map by the Center for Journalist Investigations «Apartments and houses expropriated by Russian occupants in Zaporizhzhia region». We look at satellite images of other villages where Russian occupants settled in. 

For example, we highlighted Koza village in our first material on this topic. All 15 private houses in the village have been «nationalized» by Russian occupants. It seems occupants were attracted by the dam across Obitochna river and lake with an area of 32 hectares. 

It is obvious that Russian occupants plan to explode the dam and create many local «Kakhovka» if the Armed Forces of Ukraine will break through and reach the Russian rear on temporary occupied territories. 

It might explain why majority of newly constructed fortifications in Koza village are along the lake. 

Koza village of Berdyansk raion on the photo of satellite Sentinel-2, 07.07.2023. Photo by satellite Sentinel-2

Let us look at Yelyzavetivka, larger village than Koza, one of railways knots in the region. 

Yelyzavetivka village of Berdyansk raion, 07.07.2023. Photo of satellite Sentinel-2

A the beginning of our investigation of Russian expropriation of apartments and houses of Ukrainians for military purposes, we assumed that settlements with Russian occupants would later become Russian key defense points. In other words, Russian occupation army will use civilian buildings as their fortresses. 

It seems that our forecasts come true. In June 2023, the Russian troops built fortifications in such a way as to interconnect villages like Andriivka and Berestove and received several additional defense lines.

Russian occupants build defense line with an assistance of Russian engineering machine IMR-3. Photo: screenshot of the video of Russian propagandists 

We analyzed new trenches and ditches on photos of satellite Sentinel-2 and added their location to the interactive map. As we can see, the majority of defense lines go between villages that we have monitored since May 2023.

Each green line is from 30 to 80 kilometers long. In comparison, Russian «mega-trench», with the length of 70 kilometers that the Center found in April 2023, does not look very long. 

When Russian occupants started constructing their defense lines last summer, many Ukrainians doubted their effectiveness under conditions of modern warfare. Real evaluation of enemy’s fortifications has been already given by soldiers of the Armed Forces of Ukraine who conducted counter-offensives along Zaporizhzhia, Berdyansk and Melitopol directions. As they say, Russian troops made excellent fortifications. These fortifications turned to be one of main difficulties for Ukrainian efforts to liberate the South of Ukraine. 

Map with cities and villages of occupied Zaporizhzhia region where Russian occupants settled in. Old and new defense lines of the Russian troops are marked. Map by