Water level behind Russian-controlled Kakhkovka Dam was at historic high before it was destroyed

By | June 6, 2023

The Washington Post reports:

A critical dam in southern Ukraine was heavily damaged after a reported explosion early Tuesday, sending water gushing toward dozens of communities, including some occupied by Russia, and prompting officials to evacuate thousands of people at risk of catastrophic flooding.

Russia seized the dam, which is part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, on the first day of its invasion in February 2022 because of its crucial role in supplying fresh water to Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula that Russia illegally annexed in 2014. [Continue reading…]

Politico reports:

Ukraine has been warning that Russia would seek to destroy the dam since last October, when Kyiv launched its surprise counteroffensive and regained swathes of territory from Moscow’s forces.

Russia, after initially claiming the dam had burst of its own accord on Tuesday, subsequently blamed Ukraine’s forces for bombing it. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed Kyiv had sabotaged the dam, which supplied water to the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, to deprive it of water.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected this argument, saying in a video address to the Bucharest Nine Summit on Tuesday: “Russia has been controlling the dam and the entire Kakhovka HPP for more than a year. It is physically impossible to blow it up somehow from the outside, by shelling. It was mined by the Russian occupiers. And they blew it up.”

Meanwhile, last week, a Russian government decree suspended requirements to investigate incidents at energy infrastructure in occupied Ukraine. [Continue reading…]

Kyiv Post reports:

Ukrainian officials on Tuesday said the Kremlin will be held to account for blowing up the Kakhkovka Dam on the Dnipro River, naming the specific Russian army unit allegedly responsible for installing the detonator charges and declaring the dam’s destruction a terrorist act and a war crime.

Oleksiy Danilov, an advisor to President Volodymyr Zelensky, said that Ukrainian military intelligence identified Russia’s 205th Motor Rifle Brigade as the unit most likely to have installed explosives inside the dam of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant on the Dnipro River.

Members of the 205th, and possibly other Russian Federation civilian officials and military personnel, will, if found individually responsible for complicity in taking down the dam, be prosecuted for war crimes, Danilov said. [Continue reading…]

[Lake Kakhovka water level chart appearing in tweet above: source]

In October last year, the Institute for the Study of War warned:

Russian forces are also setting information conditions to conduct a false-flag attack on the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP). The Russian military may believe that breaching the dam could cover their retreat from the right bank of the Dnipro River and prevent or delay Ukrainian advances across the river. [Commander of Russian Armed Forces in Ukraine Army General Sergey] Surovikin claimed on October 18 that he has received information that Kyiv intends to strike the dam at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP), which he alleged would cause destructive flooding in Kherson Oblast. [Kherson Occupation Head Vladimir] Saldo echoed this claim and warned that Ukrainian forces intend to strike dams upstream of Kherson City. Russian authorities likely intend these warnings about a purported Ukrainian strike on the Kakhovka HPP to set information conditions for Russian forces to damage the dam and blame Ukraine for the subsequent damage and loss of life, all while using the resulting floods to cover their own retreat further south into Kherson Oblast. The Kremlin could attempt to leverage such a false-flag attack to overshadow the news of a third humiliating retreat for Russian forces, this time from western Kherson. Such an attack would also further the false Russian information operation portraying Ukraine as a terrorist state that deliberately targets civilians. [Continue reading…]

Steve Brown writes:

In August 1941, Nazi troops swept through Soviet-era Ukraine and were believed to be approaching the southern city of Zaporizhzhia. Moscow – some say, under the direct ordered by Josef Stalin – sent agents from the NKVD (the predecessor of the KGB/FSB) to blow up the city’s DniproHES hydroelectric dam.

The dam, which stood a few miles north of the town of Zaporizhzhia, was 760 meters long and 48 meters high. It raised the river level by almost 40 meters and made the Dnipro navigable over almost 2,000 kilometers by eliminating stretches of rapids.

The aim was to slow the Nazi advance and to deprive German forces access to the electrical power produced by the dam, as well as the large agricultural and industrial areas that existed on both sides of the Dnipro. The NKVD team used almost 20 tons of explosives to tear a 165-meter-long breach in the dam.

The destroyed dam released a tidal surge reaching ten meters in height at its peak. It washed away everything in its path, killed thousands of civilians in settlements along the Dnipro, devastating homes and villages along the coastal city strip, Khortytsia island marshes and the neighboring towns of Nikopol and Marhanets. It also killed Red Army troops and destroyed their defensive positions, as they had not been warned of the sabotage plan and, even if they had, would be totally unprepared to protect themselves from the power of the released water.

In echoes of yesterday’s attack on the Nova Kakhovka dam, Moscow disseminated information that claimed it was the Wehrmacht that had blown up the dam – they were helped in this attempted fiction by the several hundred unprepared Soviet troops who died both on the dam and downstream. The Soviets did not keep records of the death toll caused or the extent of the destruction, but based on an earlier census it is believed that as many as 100,000 Ukrainians died. [Continue reading…]

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