A former Portuguese Europe minister, Bruno Macaes, has an interview in the New Statesman with Kyrylo Budanov, head of Ukrainian military intelligence, who says Russia has a plan to blow up the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station that’s ready to go and begs to be taken seriously. It’s worth being clear that blowing up a nuclear power plant is not equivalent to detonating a nuclear weapon, even though the lesson of Chernobyl is that its effects can be almost as devastating. Bear in mind also Budanov’s interest in ratcheting up dread, and the lunacy implicit in any Russian decision to risk irradiating large swathes of territory that Moscow claims to want to steal. But context is everything and in this case the context is scorched earth, or more precisely flooded land. The destruction of the Kakhovka dam, which it is safer than ever to assume was Russia’s work, shows that Putin is willing to destroy critical infrastructure for marginal battlefield gains, especially when nothing else is going to plan. And nothing else is.
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