Kakhovka dam disaster helped Ukrainian troops – Putin
Ukraine was to blame for the collapse of the Kakhovka dam, which helped its soldiers avoid a battlefield bloodbath, Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday.
“It is clear who is to blame. The Ukrainian side was aiming for this,” Putin told the war correspondents gathered at the Kremlin. While no large explosions were recorded before the dam collapsed, Kiev’s forces had repeatedly targeted it with US-supplied HIMARS rockets, in an effort to destroy it and cause the Dnieper to flood downstream, he added.
“Unfortunately – this may sound strange, but still – unfortunately, this thwarted their counteroffensive in this direction. Why unfortunately? Because it would’ve been better if they attacked there. Better for us, because it would’ve been very bad for them to attack there. But since the flood occurred, then, accordingly, the offensive did not take place,” the Russian president said.
Ukraine has had no success on any of the fronts, and has taken “massive losses,” Putin told the correspondents. According to Russian estimates, Kiev’s forces lost “at least 160 tanks and 360 armored vehicles” and anywhere between 25% and 30% of all military equipment supplied by the West for the grand offensive.
“There are also losses that we do not see, which are a result of long-range high-precision strikes,” Putin said, estimating Ukraine’s actual losses to be even higher. Meanwhile, Russia has lost around 54 tanks, and its casualties in manpower were “ten times lower” than on the other side, he added.
The Kakhovka dam broke one week ago, flooding the city of Kherson and displacing more than 20,000 people. Ukraine has blamed Russia, while Moscow has highlighted Kiev’s previous targeting of the facility – and the fact that Ukraine continued releasing water from another dam upstream to maximise pressure on the weakened dam make the flooding worse.
Putin said that Russia is doing everything it can to help mitigate the flooding, evacuate the civilians affected, and contain the environmental consequences.
“Many domestic and wild animals died, unfortunately,” the Russian president said. Moreover, cemeteries and burial grounds for domestic animals were disrupted by floodwaters. Moscow has dispatched chemical and biological defense specialists to deal with the “serious, but solvable” problem, Putin added. All local residents will receive assistance fully in line with Russian law, including compensation for property damage.
Kherson Region was among the four that voted to join Russia in a referendum last September. Ukraine has refused to recognize the result, calling Russian control of the territory an illegal occupation.