Geopolitical Insights

SITREP – Nova Kakhovka Dam Destroyed in Ukraine

June 6, 2023
What has Happened:
  • Earlier today, the Kakhovka dam and the hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper River were severely damaged by an explosion causing significant flooding in the Russian controlled region.
  • Ukrainian officials accused “Russian terrorists” of executing the attack while Kremlin officials denied this and blamed “Ukrainian sabotage” for the damage.
  • The Kakhovka Reservoir (the size of the Great Salt Lake in Utah) supplies water to Crimea (annexed by Russia in 2014) and also provides cooling water to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant (no immediate risk).
  • While there have been no reports of casualties, there are fears that the flooding could be devastating for settlements in the region where 16,000 people live.
  • The destruction of the dam will affect both Ukraine and Russia as it might hinder the counteroffensive and it will impact the fresh water supply to Crimea.
  • If Russia was responsible for this event (which is a war crime), it would further galvanize global opinion against their invasion of Ukraine and result in additional support from the West.
Why it Matters:

“Both Russia and Ukraine reported that the Nova Kakhovka dam was destroyed by an explosion. A Russian attack like this, though unproven, is in line with past attacks on Ukraine’s critical infrastructure. Why would Ukraine blow up critical infrastructure in their own country (that they are trying to take back) and make a military counteroffensive more difficult? This seems to be another brutal example of the Russian way of war. The Ukrainian military has been conducting probing reconnaissance operations in the Kherson region and the Russian military could very well have blown up the dam and flooded the area in an attempt to limit the Ukrainian counteroffensive into the Russian-occupied areas. Fingers point at Russia and their never ending military barbarity to win at all costs.” General Robert Walsh  

“There is no doubt that the picture will be clearer in 24 hours depending on what the intel community sees by way of reflections on the strike that may lead to some form of attribution (if that in fact becomes known and there is an ability/willingness to share it without compromising sources and methods). As of now, given that the strike could impact the nuclear plant and Crimea’s water flow, both sides are seeing an impact. So, we’ve got to look for someone or something that compromises attribution in order to uncover who was behind the strike.” General Robert Ashley