April 28, 2022
They pull up soggy linoleum from their floors, and fish potatoes and jars of pickles from submerged cellars. They hang out waterlogged rugs to dry in the pale spring sunshine. All around Demydiv—a village north of Ukriane’s capital, Kyiv,—residents have been grappling with the aftermath of a severe flood, which under ordinary circumstances would have been yet another misfortune for a people under attack. This time, it was quite the opposite, reports The New York Times.
In fact, it was a tactical victory in the war against Russia. The Ukrainians flooded the village intentionally, along with a vast expanse of fields and bogs around it, creating a quagmire that thwarted a Russian tank assault on Kyiv and bought the army precious time to prepare defenses.
The residents of Demydiv paid the price in the rivers of dank green floodwater that engulfed many of their homes. And they couldn’t be more pleased.
“Everybody understands and nobody regrets it for a moment,” said Antonina Kostuchenko, a retiree, whose living room is now a musty space with waterlines a foot or so up the walls. “We saved Kyiv!” she said with pride.
What happened in Demydiv was not an outlier. Since the war’s early days, Ukraine has been swift and effective in wreaking havoc on its own territory, often by destroying infrastructure, as a way to foil a Russian army with superior numbers and weaponry.
Demydiv was flooded when troops opened a nearby dam and sent water surging into the countryside. Elsewhere in Ukraine, the military has, without hesitation, blown up bridges, bombed roads, and disabled rail lines and airports. The goal has been to slow Russian advances, channel enemy troops into traps, and force tank columns onto less favorable terrain.
So far, more than 300 bridges have been destroyed across Ukraine, the country’s Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov, said. When the Russians tried to take a key airport outside Kyiv on the first day of the invasion, Ukrainian forces shelled the runway, leaving them pockmarked with craters and unable to receive planeloads of Russian special forces.
The scorched-earth policy has played an important role in Ukraine’s success in holding off Russian forces in the north and preventing them from capturing Kyiv, the capital, military experts said.
Research contact: @nytimes