Is Russia Preparing to Destroy A Dam to Overshadow A Kherson Retreat? – The “annexed” region of Kherson, Ukraine, is currently the center of heavy fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces, with some reports suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin may be considering extreme action to prevent heavy losses in southern Ukraine.
On Thursday, reports suggested that Russia was preparing to withdraw troops from Kherson ahead of an expected bombardment from Ukrainian troops. Defense analysts said that messages sent to local residents encouraging them to evacuate immediately indicated a fresh withdrawal of Russian troops, with as many as 60,000 civilians told to leave the Kherson region in the coming days.
Ukraine Strikes Russian Positions, Targets Resupply Routes
Also on Thursday, Ukrainian forces launched a series of strikes on Russian positions across Kherson, specifically targeting resupply routes. The aerial bombardment took out routes across the Dnieper River, likely setting the stage for a new Ukrainian counter-offensive designed to take back control of Ukrainian towns and cities occupied by the Russians for months.
According to reports from Ukraine, as many as 2,000 newly deployed troops were sent to the Kherson region to replace soldiers lost in recent weeks and to strengthen the frontline.
Taking out supply routes over the river could potentially give Ukrainian forces the advantage, allowing troops to bombard Russian positions while knowing that those positions will find it difficult to source new weapons, ammunition, troops, and supplies across the river in response. The Dnipro River is essential for the fast transportation of military equipment and weapons, but also for water and food for the soldiers positioned in Kherson.
If Ukrainian forces go ahead with the expected counter-offensive in Kherson, it will be the culmination of plans launched in August to regain control of the region.
Ukrainian forces have already pushed back Russia’s line of defense by as far as 20 miles in just the last few weeks.
According to soldiers on the ground, Russians are “constantly suffering losses” in the region.
Will Putin Destroy a Dam?
As Russian forces brace for potentially another embarrassment on the battlefield, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on the West on Friday night to warn Russia not to destroy the Nova Kakhovka dam, a move that would cause catastrophic damage and risk countless lives across southern Ukraine.
The warning comes as Ukrainian intelligence officials suggest that Russian forces may have already planted explosives within the dam.
“Now everyone in the world must act powerfully and quickly to prevent a new Russian terrorist attack,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly address. “Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster.”
The idea that Russia is preparing to destroy the dam was shared by analysts at the Institute for the Study of War who also suggested that Moscow would blame the destruction of the damn on Ukraine to overshadow news of a new Russian retreat.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.