Retreating Russian forces have destroyed another dam just a week after the explosion at the Kakhovka hydroelectric station left hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian civilians stranded in the resultant floods. As Ukrainian forces make incremental gains along the Donetsk-Zaporizhzhia border areas in what appears to be the beginning of an attempt to sever the Russian land bridge between Crimea and Putin’s eastern forces in Donbas, Moscow’s fleeing troops have been accused of bombing another dam in an attempt to slow down the swift advance of the long-awaited counter-offensive.
As rescue and relief efforts entered their seventh day for victims of the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in the Kherson region, the Russian military appears to be doubling-down on its tactic of destroying critical infrastructure along the frontline.
Ukrainian forces in the past four days have reportedly liberated the western Donetsk villages of Neskuchne, Makarivka and Storozheve on the west side of the Mokri Yaly River. To the east, they also recaptured the small village of Blahodatne.
The three villages on the west bank fell one after another over the weekend as the Ukrainian forces look to be marching along the river and towards the coastal city of Mariupol, roughly 70 miles to the southeast; a successful advance would effectively sever the Russian forces in the eastern conflict regions from the Crimean peninsula, through which all their supplies make their way from Russia.
Russian authorities have said their troops have largely held their ground, and have not confirmed a retreat from the three villages.
But Semyon Pegov, a prominent Russian military blogger who goes under the nickname WarGonzo, acknowledged that Russian troops had withdrawn from Blahodatne, Neskuchne and Makarivka, and said Ukrainian forces were trying to push forward along the banks of the Mokri Yaly river on Monday.
Reports this afternoon suggested the advancing Ukrainian outfits were now fighting the Russians in the northern suburbs of Staromaiors’ke, the village directly beneath the newly-liberated Makarivka.
But earlier on Monday, a Ukrainian military official said Russian forces had destroyed the dam further south along the Mokri Yaly River in an attempt to make a Ukrainian advance more difficult if and when they reach that crossing point.
The dam, which is considerably smaller than the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant, is roughly 10 miles directly south of where Ukraine and Russia are currently fighting, near the village of Klyuchove.
Valeriy Shershen, a Ukrainian military spokesperson for that sector of the front, told the Ukrainska Pravda news agency that the upstream dam had been “blown up, which led to flooding on both banks of the river”.
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A day earlier, Russian President Vladimir Putin asserted that the counteroffensive had started and Ukrainian forces were taking “significant losses.”
Ukrainian forces have focused on several areas in recent days, including the Zaporizhzhia region and near the devastated Donetsk city of Bakhmut.
Alexander Kots, the military correspondent for Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, said Ukrainian forces were attempting to advance, despite heavy losses, toward the town of Staromlinovka, which sits just above the recently-exploded dam, on the strategic highway leading to the key city of Mariupol.
Russian forces captured the Azov Sea port city over a year ago, after Ukrainian forces, led by the acclaimed Azov battalion, held out for several months in a gruelling and desperate defence.
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