Putin says dam destruction ‘disrupted’ Ukrainian counteroffensive

Russia Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin smiles as he speaks during a meeting with Russian war correspondents who cover a special military operation at the Kremlin in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, June 13, 2023. (Gavriil Grigorov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP) Gavriil Grigorov/AP

Putin says dam destruction ‘disrupted’ Ukrainian counteroffensive

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Russia’s occupying forces were preparing for Ukrainian forces to attack in the Kherson region before the breach of a major dam “disrupted” Ukraine’s plans, according to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“Because the flooding happened, the offensive didn’t take place,” Putin told a Kremlin audience, per state-run TASS.

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That statement lends itself to Ukraine’s claim that Russian forces destroyed Kakhovka Dam in order to impede a counteroffensive, even though Putin took care to add that Russia did not destroy the dam. Instead, he offered that assessment in the form of a lament, by maintaining that Russia wanted the offensive to continue there.

“I will say a strange thing now, but nevertheless, this, unfortunately, ruined their counteroffensive in this direction,” Putin said. “Why unfortunately? Because it would have been better for us if they had launched their offensive there — better for us because it would have been a bad offensive position for them.”

Putin’s perspective contradicts the assessment offered by the Russian official tasked as governor of the occupied territory of Kherson. “In military terms, the situation has worked out in a way that is operationally and tactically in favor of Russian forces,” occupation governor Vladimir Saldo said last week.

Saldo’s satisfaction dovetails with Ukrainian statements that Russia blew up the dam so that the subsequent flooding would form a barrier to Ukrainian forces.

“The enemy is moving its most combat-capable units from the Kherson direction, primarily units of the marines, airborne troops, and the 49th army,” Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Hanna Maliar, said Sunday on social media. “The undermining of the [the dam] was apparently carried out with the aim of preventing an offensive by the Defense Forces of Ukraine in the Kherson direction and releasing the necessary reserves for their transfer to the Zaporizhzhia and Bakhmut directions.”

Putin maintained that the Ukrainian counteroffensive is “not successful” in any direction. They are approaching a number that can be called “catastrophic,” he insisted.

He predicted that Western powers eventually would stop providing weaponry to Ukraine, a forecast that served both to imply a theory of success and an early victory in his original goal of “demilitarizing” the Ukrainian state.

“The Ukrainian defense industry will soon cease to exist altogether … Ammunition is delivered, equipment is delivered, and weapons are delivered — everything is delivered,” Putin said. “You won’t live long like that, you won’t last. So, the issue of demilitarisation is raised in very practical terms.”

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Ukrainian forces have lost 16 U.S.-made Bradley fighting vehicles, a Dutch group that has tracked visually-confirmed losses reported on Monday. On Tuesday, U.S. officials unveiled a new tranche of military aid to Ukraine that includes another 15 of the Bradleys.

“Russia started this unprovoked war against Ukraine. Russia could end it at any time by withdrawing its forces from Ukraine and stopping its brutal attacks against Ukraine’s cities and people,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Tuesday. “Until Russia does so, the United States and our allies and partners will stand united with Ukraine, for as long as it takes.”

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