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Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Ukraine considered destroying all bridges around Kiev – BBC

Officials reportedly discussed the move as a way to stop Russian advances toward the capital

The Ukrainian military contemplated demolishing key bridges around Kiev in order to keep Russian troops from crossing the Dnieper River in February 2022, the BBC has reported.

The proposal was floated in the early days of Moscow’s assault, as officials scrambled for ways to stop Russian forces then marching toward Ukraine’s capital, according to a lengthy BBC profile on General Valery Zaluzhny, the country’s commander-in-chief.

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Hoping to block routes over the Dnieper, “a high-ranking official” reportedly telephoned the head of the SBU intelligence agency at the time, Ivan Bakanov, and demanded an order for special forces teams to destroy every major bridge in the area. However, when the intelligence chief sought Zaluzhny’s input, he was quickly rebuffed.

“Under no circumstances are we to do that. This will be a betrayal of both civilians and the military remaining on the eastern bank,” he is reported to have told Bakanov.

“This will be a betrayal of both civilians and the military remaining on the eastern bank,” Zaluzhny was quoted as saying.

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Though Ukrainian forces have deliberately demolished several bridges to slow the Russian advance since fighting erupted last year, the plan in Kiev was never carried out in full, with only select bridges blown up in the capital region.

After weeks of heavy fighting outside Kiev, Russian troops withdrew from the area in the spring of 2022. The Kremlin explained the decision at the time as a “goodwill gesture” aimed at helping peace negotiations.