FRANTIC Vladimir Putin has deployed his combat dolphins closer to the war frontline in the Black Sea, satellite images reveal.
The desperate tyrant has repositioned his specially-trained anti-sabotage mammals as Russia gets battered by sea drones.
Satellite pictures indicate dolphin sea pens have been moved to Novoozerne – near where Ukrainian special forces have made incursions and landed on the Crimean peninsula.
The underwater assets were previously stationed at the harbour entrance in Sevastopol.
Putin's dolphins are trained for use against enemy divers intruding in harbours to plant limpet mines or for reconnaissance.
They have been taught to alert their human controllers – or deliver lethal strikes from underwater guns.
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Novoozerne is a former Soviet submarine base where Russia has deployed missile corvettes, landing craft and some support vessels including a submarine support ship, according to OSINT researcher H I Sutton.
Sutton analysed satellite images to spot the dolphin pens.
He wrote in Navel News: "The deployment is likely to defend against Ukrainian special forces who present a real threat in the area.
"Trained dolphins are considered effective against military divers.
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"There is no human, however athletic or well trained, who can out-swim them.
"And their inbuilt sonar gives them an even greater advantage."
The move comes as Putin has been forced to shift the bulk of his warships from Sevastopol – headquarters of his Black Sea Fleet – to Novorossiysk amid Ukrainian missile and drone strikes.
The bottlenose dolphin squadron was conscripted by Putin when he seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
A Russian source said at the time: "We had to practically start from scratch to teach the [mammals] to search for objects under the water because the Ukrainian Navy hardly worked with them."
However, footage shows how dolphins have been trained to use underwater guns since Soviet times.
Retired Captain Yury Plyachenko, a military trainer, explained: "The dolphin should have signalled, and if necessary it was ordered to destroy an underwater saboteur,
"It was armed with an underwater gun."
The military dolphin training programme – long based in Sevastopol – dates back to the Cold War era of the 1970s when the Soviet Union utilised the animals to search for mines or spy on foreign ships.
Russia has kept silent about the current role of its naval dolphins and how they have coped with repeated explosions from Ukrainian missiles as well as both aerial and sea drones in Sevastopol.
As well as dolphins, Russia is claimed to also have a whale strapped into a "spy" harness.
It comes after a top official previously claimed dolphins trained by the Ukrainian military died "patriotically" after going on hunger strike when they were seized by the Russians.
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