A large reservoir dam broke in Ukraine: Kyiv blames Russia, American media blames nature
At dawn on June 6, it became known about the partial destruction of the dam of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station. The Ukrainian authorities blamed the Russian occupation forces for blowing up the dam, which seized and controlled the hydroelectric power plant on February 24, 2022. The Russian occupation authorities claim that it was the Armed Forces of Ukraine that fired at and damaged the dam of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station at night, reports “Radio Liberty".
Kakhovskaya HPP is one of the large power facilities, the dam of which contains about 18 million cubic meters of water.
The destruction of this hydraulic structure, experts say, put a large number of civilians at risk and posed a threat to the cooling system of the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant reactors.
Residents of the Kherson region at dawn on June 6 began to spread messages on social networks about a possible undermining of the dam of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station occupied by Russian troops. Then this information was confirmed in OK South, informing which settlements are potentially threatened by flooding, and gave brief instructions on what people need to do.
“According to the investigation, on June 6, 2023, at about 03:00, the Russian military blew up the dam of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station in the Kherson region. As a result, there is an increase in the water level and flooding of settlements near the Dnieper River. Law enforcement agencies are taking measures to establish the extent of the destruction. Priority actions are being taken to fix the crime committed by the army of the aggressor country,” the Office of the Prosecutor General of Ukraine said.
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Video evidence of the destruction of the dam of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station was published by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky.
“Russian terrorists, by destroying the dam of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station, only confirm to the whole world that they need to be driven out of every corner of the Ukrainian land. Not a single meter should be left to them, because they use every meter for terror. Only the victory of Ukraine will return security. And this victory will come. Neither water, nor missiles, nor anything else will terrorists be able to stop Ukraine,” Zelensky wrote on his Facebook page.
The President of Ukraine asked to disseminate only verified information and said that he was convening the National Security and Defense Council.
Later, following a meeting of the National Security and Defense Council, Zelensky said that the authorities had agreed on a set of security measures to bring Russia to "tough responsibility." The President instructed to evacuate the flooded areas, as well as provide water to all settlements, whose water supply was carried out from the Kakhovka reservoir.
At the same time, the Russian occupation authorities accuse the Ukrainian Armed Forces of shelling the dam of the Kakhovka reservoir from the Vilkha RS at night, claiming that it was this shelling that led to the partial destruction of the structure of the hydroelectric power station and the discharge of water downstream of the Dnieper.
However, the Russian state news agency TASS released information that the cause of the Kakhovskaya HPP dam failure was not shelling from any side.
“It was quiet at night. There were no flights. The dam could not stand it, one support fell and flooding began, ”TASS quotes an anonymous interlocutor.
The consequences of the destruction of the hydroelectric power station
Due to the explosion, the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station was completely destroyed, Ukrhydroenergo said.
“As a result of the explosion of the engine room from the inside, the Kakhovskaya HPP was completely destroyed. The station cannot be restored,” the company said. The company notes that the water level in the Kakhovka reservoir is rapidly declining.
About 16 thousand people are evacuated to the right bank of the Kherson region due to the threat of flooding. About 80 settlements are in the zone of potential flooding, most of them are temporarily occupied. Residents of the left bank of the Kherson region are urged to move away from the banks of the Dnieper, since the left bank is located lower and the threat of flooding is higher there.
About 260 animals lived in the Fairy Oak Zoo in the occupied Nova Kakhovka. Only swans and ducks survived. the rest of the animals drowned.
Risk of an accident at ZNPP
Undermining the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station may have negative consequences for the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant occupied by Russian troops, Energoatom reports.
“Water from the Kakhovka Reservoir is necessary for the plant to feed the turbine condensers and ZNPP safety systems. Now the station cooling pond is full: as of 8:00 am, the water level is 16,6 meters, and this is enough for the needs of the station,” the message says.
The IAEA also responded on Twitter.
“The IAEA is aware of reports of damage to the Kakhovka dam in Ukraine. IAEA experts at the Zaporozhye NPP are closely monitoring the situation. There is no immediate risk to nuclear safety at the plant,” the agency said.
The explosion of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power plant will directly affect the operation of the Zaporizhzhya nuclear hydroelectric power plant, since the ZNPP will not be able to use the resources of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power plant for cooling. Therefore, it is necessary to use preventive measures to minimize risks, as Mikhail Yatsyuk, director of the Institute of Water Problems and Melioration of the National Academy of Agrarian Sciences, noted.
“If there is no water in the reservoir, it is necessary to drill wells, look for other sources in order to prevent an accident at the nuclear power plant,” says Yatsyuk.
Crimea and Kherson region will remain without water
To restore the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station, blown up by Russian forces, billions of dollars need to be raised. In addition, the hydroelectric power plant will need to be equipped, taking into account all modern technological, technical and scientific achievements.
All settlements located on the banks of the reservoir are tied to the water level. If the level drops by at least a meter, then drinking water intakes will not work and the population will not receive drinking water. with the BBC.
The North Crimean Canal is also tied to the water level in the Kakhovka reservoir. If water does not flow there, then neither the south of Kherson nor the Crimea annexed by Russia will receive water. And the restoration of water supply will take decades.
The Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station belongs to a cascade of six hydroelectric power stations operating synchronously. Now you have to change the mode of the 5 higher dams.
Foreign Minister Dmitry Kuleba on Twitter called the undermining of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station by Russia a war crime. He stressed that it could be possible the biggest man-made disaster in Europe in recent decades.
“Russia destroyed the Kakhovka dam, causing what is probably the greatest man-made disaster in Europe in decades, endangering the lives of thousands of civilians. This is a terrible war crime. The only way to stop Russia, the biggest terrorist of the XNUMXst century, is to kick it out of Ukraine,” Kuleba wrote.
Tactical step of the occupiers
By blowing up the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station, Russian troops decided to stop the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, as Natalya Gumenyuk, spokeswoman for the Defense Forces of southern Ukraine, said.
“They decided that now in this way they can stop the counteroffensive of the Ukrainian forces. They are so tired of waiting for which direction the counteroffensive will take place from, that any activity of the Defense Forces, including the intensification of counter-battery work, has led to the fact that their nerves have failed and they are trying to increase the area of the water surface so that the Ukrainian defense forces do not resort to forcing,” she said.
According to Gumenyuk, after the explosion of the hydroelectric power station, the range of firing positions of the Russian occupiers will significantly shift.
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“Nothing and no one will stop the liberation of Ukraine, whose time has come,” wrote NSDC Secretary Oleksiy Danilov.
Aleksey Danilov defined the blowing up of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station as “a fundamentally new stage of Russian aggression”, which, in his opinion, directly points to the main goal of Russian aggression, namely “the destruction of Ukraine”.
The Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, according to preliminary information, could have been blown up by the 205th motorized rifle brigade of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, Mikhail Podolyak, adviser to the head of the President's Office, said on the air of the national telethon.
“Our intelligence is already providing data on who did this from Russian military units – 205 motorized rifle units,” Podolyak said.
According to Mykhailo Podolyak, undermining the hydroelectric power station under the Geneva Conventions is the use of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction. The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense recalled that Russian troops mined the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station in April 2022.
The GUR notes that the undermining of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station by the Russian invaders will become "weighty evidence at the international tribunal", since it is a war crime, "the impact of which goes far beyond Ukraine and affects the ecosystem of the entire Black Sea region."
Reaction of Europe
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg spoke about the destruction of the dam at Nova Kakhovka in southern Ukraine at a meeting with the presidents of the Bucharest Nine, who make up NATO's eastern flank. In Bratislava, Slovakia, Stoltenberg called the incident "an outrageous act." He said it "causes serious damage to the environment" and demonstrated the "brutality" of Russia's war in Ukraine.
Secretary General of the Council of Europe Maria Peychinovich-Burich condemned the explosion of the dam of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station.
“I condemn Russia’s destruction of a dam in Ukraine: it is criminal and reckless,” she wrote on Twitter.
The European Commission also strongly condemned the blowing up of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper and called it a sign of a new level of escalation of Russian aggression against Ukraine.
“The EU strongly condemns this horrific and barbaric attack on this key infrastructure, with devastating humanitarian and environmental consequences. Obviously, this is taking place in the context of illegal Russian aggression, in which Putin does not hesitate to use hunger, energy, winter and nuclear power plants in Ukraine as weapons,” Peter Stano, representative of the EU foreign service, said at a briefing.
“This proves the horrific and barbaric nature of Russian aggression against Ukraine to an unprecedented level,” Stano said.
British Foreign Secretary James Cleverley, who came to Ukraine on a visit, said that it was too early to give "any meaningful assessment of the details", but the only reason why this happened was Russia's unprovoked full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“We will continue to assess the evolving situation, but the best thing Russia can do now is immediately withdraw its troops,” he stressed in a Reuters comment.
The reaction of Russia
The Kremlin denies any involvement in the destruction of the station, reports “TSN". The Russian Federation commented on the explosion of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station - Moscow cynically blames Ukraine. This was stated by the speaker of the Kremlin Dmitry Peskov.
So, the speaker of the Russian dictator called the destruction of the hydroelectric power station a deliberate sabotage of Kyiv. She, Peskov said, is allegedly connected with the lack of success in the offensive of the Ukrainian troops.
“Having launched large-scale offensive operations two days ago, now the Ukrainian Armed Forces are not achieving their goal. The offensive is choking,” the Kremlin spokesman stressed.
According to him, Russia resolutely denies allegations of involvement in the attack on the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station.
“The Ukrainian authorities bear all responsibility. Putin receives reports from the Ministry of Defense and other services in connection with the situation around the Kakhovskaya HPP,” Peskov said. Like, by "undermining the hydroelectric power station" Ukraine set "the goal of depriving Crimea of water." According to him, “the water level in the reservoir is falling, the flow to the canal is accordingly reduced, it is sharply reduced.”
Alternative versions of destruction
Journalists from leading Western publications, based on satellite images taken before the breakthrough of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station, suggested that the dam could have collapsed not as a result of an explosion, but because of the damage received earlier.Ukrainian Truth».
In particular, journalist Christopher Miller of the Financial Times points out that Maxar satellite imagery taken on June 5 showed recent damage to the Novaya Kakhovka dam locks and sections of the road passing through them.
Satellite images made by @Maxar on June 5 showed recent damage to the Nova Khakova dam's sluice gates and a section of roadway running across it. Before images (1 and 3) made on May 28. After images (2 and 4) made June 5, around 12:15pm. pic.twitter.com/Qi7dY6M2yM
- Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) June 6, 2023
At the same time, Evan Hill of The Washington Post draws attention to the fact that shortly before the dam burst, the water level in the Kakhovka reservoir reached unprecedented levels. As The New York Times wrote, this could be due to the fact that Russia, which controlled the hydroelectric power station, kept too few locks open.
- Evan Hill (@evanhill) June 6, 2023
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At the same time, The Economist journalist Oliver Carroll writes that eyewitnesses told the publication about the “deafening explosion” they heard in Kakhovka that morning.
Eyewitnesses told us that there was a deafening explosion from #Kakhovka in the early morning, with sky turned to white and windows breaking as far as 80 km away.
- Oliver Carroll (@olliecarroll) June 6, 2023
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