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HomeEconomyDam burst gives Russia a new weapon in the war in Ukraine

Dam burst gives Russia a new weapon in the war in Ukraine


After weeks of Ukrainian drone strikes on Russian soil and cross-border raids – a prelude to the long-awaited counter-offensive now gaining momentum – it is Russia’s turn to distract and destabilize its enemy. The destruction of the Kakhovka dam across the Dnipro River is much more than a psychological game. It will have long-lasting humanitarian, environmental and military implications.

Russia, which controls the area, has denied responsibility and blames Ukrainian “sabotage” for the dam’s breach. These claims are unbelievable. Kiev had nothing to gain from a catastrophic flood. It is possible that the structure, damaged in previous strikes, could have collapsed. The Russian occupation authorities had allowed the water in the reservoir behind to rise to unusually high levels, which would constitute criminal neglect.

But the timing of an accident seems too coincidental for the Kremlin, the day after Ukrainian forces stepped up their attacks on multiple targets along the frontline further east. This seems to be the beginning of the actual counter-offensive, even though Kiev refuses to call it that. And Moscow has previously shown that it intends to use flooding as a weapon.

Russian troops planted explosives on the dam last fall after the Ukrainian army liberated the right bank of the river. They have attacked other hydropower plants in an attempt to destroy Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. And last September, they fired eight cruise missiles at a dam above the nearby Inhulets River, triggering a deluge and hampering the advance of Ukrainian troops in the area.

Ukrainian officials accused Russian forces controlling the area of ​​mining the dam’s production hall and blowing it up. Security chief Oleksiy Danilov claimed to have “confirmed information” about the Russian unit responsible.

Kiev said the Kakhovka dam may have been destroyed to prevent its troops from using islands in the river liberated Monday as a bridgehead for an amphibious assault on the occupied Kherson province. That would probably never be the route for a large-scale Ukrainian counter-offensive. But it could narrow Kiev’s options for smaller attacks in the south of the country in support of a larger attack elsewhere. It could also allow Russia to redeploy troops to other, more vulnerable parts of its defense line.

Meanwhile, the Ukrainian authorities are dealing with a humanitarian disaster, which will inevitably divert the government’s attention from its critical summer counter-offensive. Theoretically, the emptying of the reservoir upstream of the dam threatens the water supply to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. But since the six reactors have been shut down and require less cooling water, the facility’s pond should be spacious. Yet some nuclear incident in Zaporizhzhia as a weapon of war now seems less unlikely than ever.

Breaching the dam is in line with Moscow’s strategy to destroy Ukraine’s vital infrastructure, erode its economy, and deplete and then drive out the local population. The facility channels water for irrigation to otherwise arid farmland in south-central Ukraine, a major grain-producing area. It also supplies drinking water to major cities, including Krivyi Rih, and through a canal to Russian-occupied Crimea.

Moscow will have to struggle with alternative sources of supply for the peninsula. But right now, the Kremlin seems more concerned with thwarting Ukraine’s military advance, wherever and however it takes. The destruction of the Kakhovka dam sends a signal that Moscow is still capable of escalating its war. The question is how far they are willing to go. It wants Ukraine and its Western allies to believe there are multiple options left.


Merry C. Vega is a highly respected and accomplished news author. She began her career as a journalist, covering local news for a small-town newspaper. She quickly gained a reputation for her thorough reporting and ability to uncover the truth.

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