Ukraine says Russia blew up major dam "from inside," endangering thousands of people and a nuclear plant

Ukraine says Russia blew up major dam "from inside," endangering thousands of people and a nuclear plant

Kakhovka Dam Blown Up by Russia in Ukraine: What You Need to Know

On Tuesday, June 6, 2023, a major dam in southern Ukraine was blown up, causing a massive flood that threatened thousands of lives and disrupted water supply to Crimea. The Kakhovka Dam, which was under Russian control since the beginning of the war, was reportedly destroyed by a detonation inside the engine room, although both sides have blamed each other for the attack.

The Kakhovka Dam was a 3.3-kilometre-long structure that spanned the Dnieper River, also called the Dnipro River, in the Kherson region of Ukraine. It was built in 1956 as part of the Dnieper Hydroelectric Station, which was one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in Europe. The dam also regulated water flow to the North Crimean Canal, which supplied water to Crimea and parts of southern Ukraine.

The explosion of the dam unleashed a torrent of water that flooded the nearby city of Nova Kakhovka and several villages along the river. The Ukrainian authorities urged residents to evacuate and gather essential documents and pets. The flood also posed a risk to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which is located downstream from the dam. The plant is the largest nuclear power station in Europe and provides about 20% of Ukraine's electricity.

The destruction of the dam is seen as a major escalation in the ongoing war between Ukraine and Russia, which started in 2014 after Russia annexed Crimea and supported separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine. The conflict has killed more than 14,000 people and displaced millions more. Despite several ceasefire agreements, the fighting has continued along the front line, with frequent clashes and shelling.

The motive behind the attack on the dam is unclear, but some analysts suggest that it could be a way for Russia to pressure Ukraine into accepting its terms for a political settlement or to divert attention from its domestic problems. Others argue that it could be a provocation by Ukraine to draw international support or to justify a military response. The incident has also raised concerns about the environmental and humanitarian consequences of the flood, especially for Crimea, which already suffers from water shortages.

The international community has condemned the attack on the dam and called for an immediate investigation and de-escalation of tensions. The United Nations Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting on Wednesday to discuss the situation. The United States and its allies have expressed their solidarity with Ukraine and reiterated their commitment to its sovereignty and territorial integrity.

How does the dam affect Crimea's water supply?

The Kakhovka Dam was a key source of water for Crimea, which has been suffering from a severe drought since Russia annexed it in 2014. The dam regulated the flow of water to the North Crimean Canal, which used to provide 85% of Crimea's freshwater needs. However, after the annexation, Ukraine cut off the water supply to the canal, citing Russia's illegal occupation and unpaid debts. As a result, Crimea has faced a chronic water crisis, with reservoirs drying up and taps running dry.

The explosion of the dam could worsen the situation for Crimea, as it could disrupt the remaining sources of water that the peninsula relies on, such as underground wells and desalination plants. It could also cause environmental damage to the ecosystems and agriculture of the region. Some experts warn that the flood could contaminate the water with debris, chemicals and radioactive materials from the nuclear power plant.

Russia has accused Ukraine of using water as a weapon against Crimea and has demanded that it restore the water supply to the canal. Ukraine has refused to do so unless Russia withdraws its troops and restores its sovereignty over Crimea. Russia has also tried to find alternative solutions to the water problem, such as building new pipelines, drilling more wells and expanding desalination capacity. However, these measures have proven to be costly, inefficient and insufficient to meet the growing demand for water in Crimea.

What are the prospects for peace in Ukraine?

The attack on the dam is likely to increase the tensions and violence in the war-torn region, which has seen little progress towards a peaceful resolution despite several diplomatic efforts. The main framework for negotiations is the Minsk agreements, which were signed in 2015 by Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany. The agreements call for a ceasefire, a withdrawal of heavy weapons, an exchange of prisoners, a restoration of Ukraine's control over its border with Russia and a special status for the rebel-held areas.

However, the implementation of the agreements has been stalled by mutual distrust and disagreements over the sequence and conditions of the steps. Both sides have accused each other of violating the ceasefire and failing to fulfill their obligations. The recent escalation of hostilities has also raised doubts about the viability and relevance of the Minsk agreements, as some parties have called for revising or abandoning them altogether.

The international community has tried to mediate and support the peace process, but with limited success. The United States has been a key ally of Ukraine, providing it with military and economic assistance and imposing sanctions on Russia. The European Union has also imposed sanctions on Russia and offered political and financial support to Ukraine. However, these measures have not deterred Russia from continuing its aggression and interference in Ukraine.

The main forum for dialogue is the Normandy format, which involves the leaders of Ukraine, Russia, France and Germany. The last summit of this format was held in Paris in December 2019, where some progress was made on prisoner exchanges and ceasefire monitoring. However, no further meetings have taken place since then due to the COVID-19 pandemic and political changes in some countries. The next summit is expected to be held in Berlin later this year, but no date has been set yet.

The prospects for peace in Ukraine remain uncertain and fragile, as both sides remain entrenched in their positions and unwilling to compromise. The attack on the dam could further undermine the trust and cooperation needed for a lasting solution. The international community will have to play a more active and constructive role in facilitating dialogue and pressure on both sides to adhere to their commitments and respect international law.

Source

(1) LIVE — Ukraine accuses Russia of blowing up Kakhovka dam. https://www.dw.com/en/live-updates-ukraine-accuses-russia-of-blowing-up-kakhovka-dam/a-65833125.
(2) What is the Kakhovka dam in Ukraine ‘blown up’ by Russia? How could this hurt both sides?. https://www.firstpost.com/explainers/what-is-the-kakhovka-dam-in-ukraine-blown-up-by-russia-how-could-this-hurt-both-sides-12700742.html.
(3) Russia-Held Ukraine City 'Novaya Kakhovka' Flooded After Dam Blown Up: Report. https://www.ndtv.com/world-news/russian-held-city-novaya-kakhovka-flooded-after-key-dam-blown-up-report-4098564.
(4) Strategically vital Nova Khakovka dam blown up near border between Ukraine and Russia. https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/strategically-vital-nova-khakovka-dam-blown-up-near-border-between-ukraine-and-russia/ar-AA1cbU8p.
(6) Nova Kakhovka Dam blown up in Ukraine's Kherson region, settlements .... https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-06/nova-kakhovka-dam-kherson-destroyed-region-flooding/102445926.

FAQ's

Who controls Nova Kakhovka dam?

The dam is located in Russian-controlled territory near the major city of Kherson. Russian forces captured Kherson in March 2022, but a successful Ukrainian counteroffensive retook the city in November 2022, as Russian troops retreated to the southern bank of the Dnipro river.

Who blew the dam in Ukraine?

Kyiv has accused Russian forces of blowing up a large dam in southern Ukraine, while the Moscow-installed official in the city of Nova Kakhovka in the Russian-controlled portion of the Kherson region blamed the structure's destruction on Ukrainian shelling.

What happened to the dam in Ukraine?

Ukraine's Russian-held Nova Kakhovka dam was damaged in shelling by Ukrainian forces, Russian news agencies reported on Sunday, citing emergency services.

Where is the Kakhovka dam?

A huge Soviet-era dam on the Dnipro River that separates Russian and Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine was breached on Tuesday, unleashing floodwaters across the war zone.

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