The Russian authorities faced a choice between Ukrainian forces crossing the Dnipro River in the near future, and the destruction of their positions on the left bank by destroying the Kakhovka dam and causing subsequent flooding, Svitan said.
“They opted for the lesser evil, or at least that's how they perceive it,” he said.
“While they destroyed their own fortifications on the left bank, they succeeded in delaying our troops from advancing towards the left bank of the Dnipro River for at least a month.”
Svitan said that after the flooding, the water would recede within three to four days. However, it would take time for the land to dry, rendering movement through the submerged territory impossible.
“From a military standpoint, they have impeded our forces, but only on the Kherson front,” Svitan said.
“Furthermore, the reserve forces we had positioned on the Kherson front, which were ready to cross the Dnipro River and advance directly towards Armyansk and Crimea, can now be deployed on the Zaporizhzhya, Donetsk, and Luhansk fronts. This will intensify the fighting in those areas,” the expert said.
Svitan also emphasized that it had been evident since the Russian seizure of the Kakhovka dam a year ago that they were willing to destroy it it.
The colonel said that the Russians likely placed several tons of quarrying explosives at the dam, as they had earlier gained control of warehouses containing such materials.
He added that the Russians had been preparing for the dam explosion for at least two weeks, during which they relocated heavy equipment and valuable machinery from Oleshky, ceased water releases through the dam sluices prior to the blast, and engaged in looting nearby settlements along the Dnipro River in the last two to three days.
“The Russians swiftly withdrew to their pre-planned third line of defense, anticipating the explosion and subsequent flooding,” Svitan said.
“This third line of defense lies beyond the flooded area, and they are currently holding that position. However, a vast expanse of water lies ahead of them, reducing their concerns. Nonetheless, their forces and resources there were limited, as they knew they possessed the ability to create this problem at any moment by detonating the hydroelectric power plant. Consequently, the forces stationed on the Kherson front remained there and made minimal movement,” Svitan said.
Explosion at Kakhovka HPP — what is known
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Russia’s troops invaded Nova Kakhovka more than a year ago. On the night of June 6, the dam there was blown from the inside. The water flow from the reservoir, which was close to its highest recorded water level, has endangered over 80 towns and settlements, including the regional capital of Kherson, downstream on the Dnipro River.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy ordered an evacuation from the endangered areas and supply of safe drinking water to people who were supplied with water from the Kakhovka Reservoir, which is draining away because of the destruction of the dam.
Evacuation from the right bank of Kherson Oblast continues, even during the nighttime, while a catastrophe unfolds on the occupied left bank, which has suffered significantly more from the flooding.
The Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant was completely destroyed and cannot be repaired, state hydroelectric company Ukrhydroenergo said earlier. The dam wasn’t destroyed completely, but significantly damaged, the Ukrainian military’s South Operational Command said.
Around 16,000 people on the right (western) bank of the Dnipro River in Kherson Oblast are in a “critical zone” at risk of flooding according to the oblast’s governor, Oleksandr Prokudin.
The Prosecutor General’s Office opened an investigation on the incident under article of the Criminal Code on ecocide.
President Zelenskyy has called Russia’s attack on the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant the largest man-made environmental disaster in Europe in decades.
Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence has said that the Russian demolition of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant increases the threat of a nuclear disaster.
The mayor of the occupied town of Oleshky, Yevhen Ryshchuk, reported on June 8 that at least eight people had died as a result of the flooding.
At least five individuals lost their lives and another 13 were reported missing due to the explosion at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, according to Ukraine’s Interior Ministry.
Read the original article on The New Voice of Ukraine