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Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant is ‘inextricably connected’ to the Kakhovka dam Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s chief of defense intelligence, explains what may happen in the battle for Kherson
In the face of the advancing Ukrainian army, the Russian military are getting ready to defend their foothold in Kherson. At the same time, they’re evacuating the area and preparing for their own “very rapid” retreat, in case it becomes necessary. In an interview to Ukrainska Pravda, Major General Kyrylo Budanov, the Ukrainian chief of defense intelligence, explained Russia’s current strategy in Kherson, and whether there’s any reason to think that the Russian troops might destroy the Kakhovka dam as part of their retreat.
“In many ways,” Budanov said about the Russian-organized evacuation of Kherson,
this is a manipulative info-operation. We have certain facts. For instance, Promsvyazbank and some other financial institutions are leaving. The seriously wounded are being moved out. Hospitals are speedily discharging patients who can walk. And then there’s this insane propaganda campaign, “we care for the people” and so on.
They’re creating this illusion that all is lost. At the same time, they’re bringing in new military units, and getting the streets combat-ready. They realize that if we take control of the Kakhovka dam, they’ll have to act fast. Either they’ll have to leave the city very quickly, or they will risk finding themselves in the same situation as our Mariupol defenders’.
Because of this, Budanov said, the Russian side is preparing at once to fight — and to retreat “very rapidly,” if necessary.
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Budanov also commented on the speculations that the Russian troops might try to explode the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam to cover their retreat. The dam, he said, has been partially mined since last spring, but there isn’t enough explosives to destroy it completely. Besides, the dam’s total destruction would not be an advantage to Russia:
What they’d get would be flooding across the entire left-bank Kherson. They’d lose, then, even the hypothetical possibility of water supply to the North Crimean Canal and Crimea. Rebuilding the dam would take a long time.
“And the most interesting thing,” Budanov said of the prospect of the Russian military exploding the Kakhovka dam, “is that they would destroy the very possibility of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant’s existence, since it’s inextricably connected with that dam.” “Of course, they’re complicating our advancement for a certain period of time,” Budanov acknowledged, “but they will have to retreat all the way to the Crimea.”
When asked about what had happened to the Crimean Bridge, Budanov said little except “let’s talk about it another time.” Still, he approved of President Zelensky’s suggestion that the explosion could have been the result of internal frictions among the Russian military and security services.
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