The Daily Telegraph

Kyiv’s new ally is beavering away to bolster its defences

- By Joe Barnes

BEAVERS have unwittingl­y enhanced Ukraine’s defences against a possible Russian invasion from Belarus.

Miles of thick mud, waterlogge­d fields and burst river banks have created a significan­t obstacle for any new front in the war. And that is down to Ukraine’s animal allies building dams, according to Serhiy Khominskyi, of the Volyn territoria­l defence brigade.

They have made the ground marshy and impassable, he said. He explained: “When they build their dams, normally people destroy them, but they didn’t this year because of the war, so now there is water everywhere.”

His brigade is just one of hundreds of groups of recruits guarding the thick forests and swampy terrain of Ukraine’s borderland­s with Belarus.

The swampy conditions created by the beaver dams give the Ukrainian forces an advantage and time to prepare to counter any potential new offensive.

Viktor Rokun, one of the brigade’s deputy commanders, said: “On your own land, everything will help you to defend it – the landscape, lots of rivers, which have burst their banks this year.”

Konrad Muzyka, director of defence specialist­s Rochan Consulting, said Volyn would be a “horrible place to conduct an offensive operation”.

“There are many watercours­es there, very few roads,” he said. “This makes it easy for Ukrainian forces to channel the movement of Russian forces into specific areas where they would be shelled by artillery.”

Russia and its only remaining European ally, Belarus, have bolstered their presence in the region, prompting fears of a new attack.

Next week they will hold joint aviation drills, further ramping up tensions in the area.

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