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Western defense officials said Saturday that Russian forces are attempting to slow Ukrainian troops advancing south from the Kharkiv region by targeting dams and flooding cross points.
The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defense confirmed reports this week that Russian attacks on Sept. 21 and 22 relied on short-range ballistic missiles or “similar weapons” to hit the Pechenihy dam, which sits on the Siverskyy Donets River, where Ukrainian forces are advancing down.
The attacks followed a similar Sept. 15 strike in central Ukraine on the Karachunivske dam near Kryvyi Rih, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s hometown, the Defense Ministry said in its daily intelligence update.
A view shows a hydraulic structure damaged by a Russian missile strike, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine September 14, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Service/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY.)
“As Russian commanders become increasingly concerned about their operational set-backs, they are probably attempting to strike the sluice gates of dams in order to flood Ukrainian military crossing points,” the statement read.
But the ministry on Saturday assessed that Russia’s attacks “are unlikely to have caused significant disruption to Ukrainian operations due to the distance between the damaged dams and the combat zones.”
Ukrainian national guard servicemen carry a bag containing the body of a Ukrainian soldier in an area near the border with Russia, in Kharkiv region, Ukraine, Monday, Sept. 19, 2022. In this operation seven bodies of Ukrainian soldiers were recovered from what was the battlefield in recent months. (AP Photo/Leo Correa)
The attacks on civilian infrastructure come as Ukrainian forces have pushed forward not only in Kharkiv in the north but in the Kherson region in the south.
Russian forces have allegedly taken heavy losses, with nine to 10 Russian soldiers dying for every one Ukrainian soldier in the Kharkiv region this month, one official told Fox News Digital.
IZYUM, UKRAINE – SEPTEMBER 20: A Russian tank and a destroyed bridge are seen September 20, 2022 in Izyum, Ukraine. Izyum was occupied by Russians since April 1st causing major destruction and death to the small city. In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have reclaimed villages east and south of Kharkiv, as Russian forces have withdrawn from areas they’ve occupied since early in the war. (Paula Bronstein /Getty Images)
Ukraine’s defense ministry has reported that nearly 55,000 Russian soldiers have been killed while some 9,000 Ukrainian soldiers have died since the war began nearly seven months ago, though Fox News Digital has not been able to independently verify these statistics.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has shown no sign of accepting defeat or ending the war by withdrawing his forces and instead this week called for a “partial mobilization” to send another 300,000 troops to fight in Ukraine.
Caitlin McFall is a Fox News Digital reporter. You can reach her at email@example.com or @ctlnmcfall on Twitter.