Russia has begun shifting troops from the eastern bank of the Dnieper River to the Zaporizhzhia and Bakhmut regions of occupied Ukraine, where intense fighting is ongoing as Kyiv attempts to break through the front lines and recapture territory lost to Moscow.
The redeployment of Russia’s Dnieper Group of Forces likely reflects the Kremlin’s belief that a Ukrainian attack across the Dnieper River is increasingly unlikely following the June 6 collapse of the Kakhovka Dam and the resulting flooding, British officials said Monday.
“This potentially involves several thousand troops from the 49th Army, including its 34th Separate Motorized Brigade, as well as Airborn Forces (VDV) and Naval Infantry units,” UK intelligence officials tweeted in their latest battlefield assessment.
Russia denied responsibility for what happened at the Kahkovka Dam and accused Ukraine of causing the breach with a missile or artillery attack. But an investigation by The New York Times concluded that Moscow is the most likely culprit.
Because the dam was built during the Soviet era, the Kremlin had easy access to its blueprints and knew where it was most vulnerable: a passageway that runs through the concrete heart of the structure, the newspaper said.
“If your objective is to destroy the dam itself, a large explosion would be required,” Michael W. West, a geotechnical engineer and expert in dam safety, told The New York Times. “The [passageway] is an ideal place to put that explosive charge.”
The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam and its hydroelectric plant has caused widespread flooding across southern Ukraine, washing away homes and destroying sanitation and sewage systems. It has left tens of thousands of people without access to fresh water, United Nations officials said.
“We urge the Russian authorities to act in accordance with their obligations under international humanitarian law,” Denise Brown, the U.N.’s humanitarian coordinator, said in a statement. “Aid cannot be denied to people who need it.”
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