A major dam in southern Ukraine, located in the region under Russian control, was partially destroyed on Tuesday, leading to the evacuation of local residents due to rising waters. Both Ukrainian and Russian authorities have exchanged accusations, blaming each other for the destruction of the dam. The incident occurred at a time when tensions were escalating, with expectations growing regarding Ukraine’s anticipated offensive.
According to the authorities installed by Moscow, the dam sustained damage due to “multiple strikes.” They claimed that the destruction was intended to create obstacles for the offensive actions of the Ukrainian armed forces. On the other hand, Ukraine accused Russia of being responsible for the explosion at the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant, which led to the damaging of the dam.
The Kakhovka Dam, a crucial piece of infrastructure in Ukraine, has been under Russian control since the start of the Russian offensive in Ukraine. Constructed in 1956 during the Soviet era, the dam serves the important function of supplying water to the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.
The consequences of the dam’s damage are far-reaching. The flooding downstream poses a threat to homes, streets, and businesses, while upstream water levels that help cool Europe’s largest nuclear power plant could be depleted. Additionally, supplies of drinking water to Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed, are at risk of being drained.
The incident adds a complex new element to the ongoing war between Russia and Ukraine, which has been ongoing for 16 months. Ukrainian forces were reportedly preparing for a counteroffensive to regain lost territory, although the specific timing of the operation has not been announced.
The dam’s failure could result in the flooding of numerous villages and towns, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. It could also disrupt the operations of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and lead to the drying up of water supplies in northern Crimea.
The international community is closely monitoring the situation, with the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency stating that there is no immediate nuclear safety risk at the Zaporizhzhia plant. However, Ukrainian authorities have warned that a global ecological disaster could unfold, impacting ecosystems and causing extensive destruction.
As tensions escalate and the situation remains precarious, the fallout from the dam’s damage further complicates the territorial dispute between Ukraine and Russia.