Russia is bringing new military units into Kherson as it prepares to defend the city from any fresh Ukrainian offensive, the head of Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Agency said in an interview with Kyiv-based news website Ukrainska Pravda.
Maj. Gen. Kyrylo Budanov said that, while Moscow was moving injured people, cash and the Russian-installed administrative authorities and financial institutions out of the city, it was putting more troops in.
“[Russian bank] Promsvyazbank and other financial structures that the Russians brought there are being taken out,” Budanov said.
“They are taking out cash, [internet] servers, the so-called occupation authorities … All the non-walking, seriously injured are being taken out, they are trying to discharge those who can walk as soon as possible from hospitals … They create the illusion that everything is lost,” added Budanov.
“And at the same time, on the contrary, they bring new military units there and prepare the streets of the city for defense.”
Budanov said Moscow was acting out of fear that Ukrainian troops might retake the critical Kakhovka dam, which lies to the east of Kherson, and encircle its troops in the city.
“They understand that if we take at least control over the Kakhovka dam … they will have to make a decision very quickly. Either [they will have to] very, very quickly leave the city and get out, or they risk ending up in the same situation that our units in Mariupol found themselves in earlier,” he said.
“Understanding all this, they are preparing the ground so that, if necessary, they can get out of there very quickly. However, they are not preparing to leave now. They are preparing to defend.”
Budanov repeated allegations that the Russians had “partially mined” the dam.
He said he didn’t believe Russian forces would completely destroy it, because doing so would flood much of the Kherson region and cut off the water supply to annexed Crimea and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
“In other words, if you make a complete destruction, then the scenario is as follows. Are they ready for it? I don’t think so,” he said.