Initial Reactions: Blowing up Nova Kakhovka Dam on Dnipro River is a Dangerous Precedent

Фото: скриншот од видео снимка од дрон

Photo: Screenshot of the video recording from a drone

During the night of 06.06.2023, a large part of the enormous Dnipro dam in the vicinity of Nova Kakhovka in South Ukraine was blown up. Subsequently, the war in Ukraine acquired a completely new form that included ecocide – environmental disaster – and both sides, Russia and Ukraine, claim that the other side is responsible


While the first day of the explosion disaster of dam Nova Kakhovka, more attention was given to the accusations and the probable assessments, already on 07.06. the damage inflicted was expressed in concrete numbers. Hence, the Ukrainian Government – as reported by DW in Macedonian– was precise in determining that more than 80 places were at risk of being flooded and that approximately 42 thousand people faced the same threat. Apart from that, DW published the details of the assessment performed by the competent Ukrainian company, according to which the dam could not be repaired and put into operation due to the degree of destruction:

16 barrier gates, the hydro-power facility and the dam between the power-plant and the barrier were destroyed. The power-plant cannot be repaired, says for DW, Ihor Sirota, Director of the share-holding company Ukrhydroenergo that also owns the hydro-plant.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture confirmed that hundreds of thousands of inhabitants from the region were left without access to drinking water and also notified specific damages inflicted on arable land:

At least 500.000 hectares of land are left without irrigation, which might turn the land into a desert. Due to the destruction of the dam, 94% of the irrigation systems in Kherson, 74% in Zaporizhzhia and 30% in the Dnipro Region were left without water, reported the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture, informed


Scholz – New dimension that resembles Putin

In his initial response, German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, said that “such a dimension was new in the war” and that the damaged dam is something that “corresponds to Putin’s manner of warring”. As published by Macedonian media, in his initial response, NATO’s Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, spoke about “the brutality of Russian aggression” and about audacity:

Today’s destruction of the dam “New Kakhovka” put at harm thousands of civilians and inflicted tremendous damage to the environment. This is sheer audacity that, yet again, showed the brutality of the Russian war in Ukraine.

In its initial responses, the USA does not exclude Russian responsibility in the explosion of the dam, but claimed to be still determining the facts and therefore cannot directly point at the guilty party. We know there are casualties, including likely many deaths. We’ve seen the reports that Russia was responsible for the explosion at the dam which Russian forces took over illegally last year and have been occupying since then. We are working with the Ukrainians to collect more information. But we cannot say conclusively what happened at this point, stated in his initial response the spokesperson of the White House, John Kirby.


Peskov – Ukrainian sabotage

Unlike these statements, Kyiv and Moscow exchanged many allegations about the explosion of the dam. Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin’s Press Secretary, in his initial response dated 6th of June in the afternoon, stated that the sabotage was deliberately done by Ukraine and linked to the state of affairs on the front that was not developing in favor of Kyiv.

Unambiguously, we can say that the sabotage of the Ukrainian side was deliberate… Obviously, this sabotage is also related to the fact that having started large offensives two days ago, the Ukrainian Armed Forces realized that they were not accomplishing their goals – these offensive actions were groping, Peskov said.

Similar allegations were made by the Russian Defence Minister, Sergey Shoigu, who pointed out precisely that the reason for the explosion of the dam was so that the Ukrainians can deploy offensive units in another area:

According to the data available, the purpose of such actions is for the enemy – after the unsuccessful offensive operations and aiming at strengthening the potential – to implement a plan for deployment of specific units and equipment from the direction of Kherson into the area of its offensive operations thereby significantly weakening the positions in the direction of Kherson, stated Shoigu.

The allegations from Moscow continued the next day – 07.06. – when the Press Secretary of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Maria Zakharova, stated that this incident should be researched from a historic viewpoint and become subject of investigation:

This is not topic of the day or the week any longer, but placed within historic context. I am talking about the events that happened yesterday in “Kakhovka”. That really needs to become subject of investigation and research for the whole world, stated Zakharova.

Zelenskyy – an environmental bomb was activated

Unlike Moscow, Kyiv accused Russia for the explosion of the dam. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, denying the possibility of Kyiv blowing up the dam because Russia had been managing the dam for more than one year, said:

Russia activated a bomb of massive environmental destruction. This is the greatest artificial environmental distaster in Europe in the last decades. Russia is the most dangerous terrorist in the world and therefore the defeat – that we will secure eventually – will be the most important contribution to the security of our region, our Europe and the entire world.

The Chief of Ukrainian diplomacy, Dmytro Kuleba, in his initial response, accused the Russians for the terrorist act, specifying that the event was the greatest technological disaster in Europe in the last decades:

Russia destroyed the Kakhovka dam inflicting probably Europe’s largest technological disaster in decades and putting thousands of civilians at risk. This is a heinous war crime. The only way to stop Russia, the greatest terrorist of the 21st century, is to kick it out of Ukraine, wrote Kuleba on Twitter.

At the same time (06.06. in the morning), the spokeswoman of the Ukrainian Operational Command South, Nataliya Gumenyuk, stated at a press conference that the Russian Army’s response was “hysteric” for the purpose of preventing a military maneuver of the Ukrainian Army:

They were aware that a military maneuver of the defence forces was being prepared, and, therefore they tried to influence our forces to prevent the crossing of River Dnipro which they feared, stated Gumenyuk, explaining that the Ukrainians were holding the right and higher bank of Dnipro, while the Russians the left, and that was the reason why they flooded it deliberately.

The next day – 07.06. – this initial response for CNN was confirmed by another Ukrainian officer from the field:

Around 3 o’clock after midnight the enemy blowed up the hydro-plant Kakhovka to raise the level of the water and flood the access points and the left embankment of River Dnipro, as well as the inhabited areas there. It is impossible for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to advance there in the futurestated Captain Andrey Pidlisni.

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