SATELLITE images show the horrific devastation in Ukraine’s bloodiest battle as the city of Bakhmut has become a “killing zone”.
Chilling before and after pictures of the area – once home to more than 70,000 people – show the green landscape churned up into a shell pitted mud bath.
Tower blocks and houses which were once family homes have now been left devastated by the Russians.
Roads have been ripped up, trees torn apart, buildings left burning, and the lives of tens of thousands of people have been shattered.
The battle has been raging for nine months – with the life expectancy of soldiers on the frontline being just four hours.
And the satellite pictures were released today by space tech firm Maxar Technologies.
“The city and surrounding area has been the focal point of intense battles between Russian and Ukrainian forces for the past six months and the imagery reveals extensive damage to buildings, homes, infrastructure and the fields in and near Bakhmut,” Justin Cameron, a senior imagery analyst at Maxar, told The Sun Online.
“East of the city, extensive fortifications and ‘dragon’s teeth’ tank obstacles have been placed in fields and along roads.”
The photos were taken in January – and the fighting has only become more intense over the last two months.
Bakhmut is right now the key battle of the war as Vladimir Putin’s forces press in their bloody advance.
Ukraine has warned the if the city falls the road could be open to much of the country’s East.
The fighting however has been brutal – with an estimated 30,000 Russians dying in Bakhmut.
Soldiers are reportedly fighting street-by-street and hand-to-hand amongst the ruined hellscape.
Russians are reported to be using shovels as weapons as they find themselves running out of bullets.
Putin’s mercenary warlord Yevgeny Prigozhin – chief of the Wagner Group – today raged the city is a “killing zone”.
The Wagner Group – known for their drug-fuelled viciousness – are spearheading the attack for Russia.
But despite this constant fierce attack, the city has become known as “Fortress Bakhmut” for its heroic resistance.
British military intelligence however said the Russians are making progress.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) said Wagner forces have seized most of eastern Bakhmut.
And a river flowing through the city now marks the frontline.
Ukrainian troops and supply lines remain vulnerable to continued Russian attempts to outflank the defenders from the north and south.
But Putin’s assault will be difficult to sustain without more significant personnel losses.
MoD officials explained Ukrainian sniper fire from fortified buildings further west has made the thin strip of open ground in the city’s center a killing zone.
Oleksandr Syrsky, the head of Ukraine’s ground forces, said on Saturday the fight for Bakhmut helps win time in preparation for a future counteroffensive.
“The real heroes now are the defenders who are holding the eastern front on their shoulders, and inflicting the heaviest possible losses sparing neither themselves nor the enemy,” said Syrsky.
“It is necessary to buy time to build reserves and launch a counteroffensive, which is not far off.”
President Volodymyr Zelensky has vowed Ukraine will not retreat – despite also facing heavy losses.
And he warned at the weekend there will be “open road” through his country’s east if Russia captures Bakhmut.
Kyiv continues to call for Western support to help them defeat Putin, who has so far lost more than 150,000 soldiers.
Vlad foolishly believed his forces would be welcomed into Ukraine as liberators when he invaded last February.
But instead the initial attack ended in a disaster which saw his forces devastated and thrown back to Russia.
Moscow’s war machine however continues grind forward as they unleashed a new barrage of missiles this week.