RUSSIANS living just miles from the Ukraine border fear Zelensky’s forces will invade as Putin’s war faces repeated setbacks.
Russia has lost some $1 billion in military equipment during the three-week counterattack which has seen tanks and ammunition abandoned by fleeing battalions.
Dramatic footage has captured Russian troops surrendering en masse with reports of plummeting morale among the soldiers.
The calamitous situation for Putin has left those living in Russia’s Belgorod fearing for their safety as fed-up forces flood into the region.
Refugees from the nearby Kharkiv region – where Ukraine says it has recaptured more than 3,000 square miles of territory – have also been arriving by the car load.
The sound of explosions can be heard in Belgorod from war-torn Ukraine.
But in recent days, the region itself has been hit by a fresh round of strikes.
On Saturday, at least one person was killed and two people injured, officials in the area claimed.
Authorities in Belgorod are now facing calls from scared residents to take action as night time explosions ripple through the region.
One unnerved resident wrote on local governor Vyacheslav Gladkov’s Facebook page: “I’m asking once again, where is our army, the one that must be protecting us?.
“We are on the border; they are shooting at us, so we need an army and protection. Who will wake up the President?”
Fearful residents and business owners have started buying plywood boards in case they need to cover their windows, while some have fashioned bomb shelters in their gardens.
One terrified woman told the New York Times: “It is as if they are already here.”
Soldiers have also been spotted stocking up for winter amid fears the war could rage on for many months to come.
Oleg, a restaurant owner, told the Guardian: “Nobody expects it to come here.”
Ukraine has not signalled it plans to bring the war across the border, but refugees from territory recaptured by hero Ukrainians continue to pour across.
‘WE FEEL SCARED’
Market merchant Maksim, 21, told the NYT: “There are so many rumors, people are afraid.”
Nursery teacher Ekaterina, 21, added: “We feel scared, and it is especially hard when you work with children.
“The children start running around screaming ‘missiles’ but we tell them it is just thunder.”
Putin had been hoping for a swift victory in Ukraine – but his troops have been met by stuff Ukrainian resistance with huge amounts of hardware rendered useless by hero defenders.
It comes as Russian troops are being killed ten to one by Ukraine heroes as Vlad’s men dump rusting Soviet tanks in a chaotic retreat, defence officials claim.
Oleksiy Danilov, Secretary of the National Security and Defence Council says Kremlin losses are significantly higher than Ukraine’s.
In the past few days, Ukrainian officials estimated to have reclaimed some 3,000 square kilometres of territory from Russia.
British intelligence puts the scale of Ukrainian territory recaptured as twice the size of Greater London and including the key city of Izium.