Partially destroyed, the dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, on the Dnieper, has been coveted by kyiv and Moscow for months. During the reconquest of Kherson at the end of 2022, the Ukrainian army had even considered damaging it.
Moscow and kyiv have been accusing each other since Tuesday morning of being responsible for the partial destruction of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine. The fall of part of the installation caused the flooding on Tuesday of many localities downstream of the dam.
This strategic point has been in the sights of the governments of Vladimir Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky since the beginning of the war. In the first hours of its attack on Ukraine on February 24, 2022, the Russian army seized the Kakhovka dam and the hydroelectric power station, about sixty kilometers north of Kherson. And its destruction had even been considered by the Ukrainian army in November 2022 during the counter-offensive which aimed to reconquer Kherson, according to the Washington Post.
A strategic point
On May 20, during a press visit organized by the Russian Defense Ministry, AFP reported that the installation was “intact”: “water is flowing and flowing into the Dnieper River.”
Taking the plant was a priority for Moscow: the installation allowed until Tuesday to supply water to the annexed peninsula of Crimea. And the huge reservoir artificially created by the dam was used for the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant.
Despite the partial destruction of the dam on Tuesday, the nuclear power plant 150 kilometers to the north is not in “immediate danger, assured the IAEA. On the other hand, thousands of people had to evacuate in the Kherson region, threatened by d severe flooding.
Mutual accusations since last October
The risk of strikes on the dam and the power station had been brandished in October 2022 by the Ukrainians and the Russians, who had accused each other for the first time of endangering the lives of thousands of inhabitants. At the time, troops from kyiv were advancing in the Kherson region and aimed to conquer this symbolic city.
Volodymyr Zelensky accused Moscow of having “undermined the dam” to slow the advance of Ukrainian troops. “Lies”, reacted the Russian occupation authorities.
One of the three crossing points for the Russian army during the Battle of Kherson
Kherson being located on the right bank of the Dnieper, Moscow had, in addition to the Kakhovka dam, two other crossing points to supply and arm its troops present in the city during the battle to conquer the city in the south of the Ukraine: the Antonovsky Bridge and a railway bridge. Both of these facilities were targeted by the Ukrainian military in November 2022 and rendered impassable.
kyiv has therefore put on the table the possibility of damaging the dam to cause flooding, in order to make a possible Russian crossing impossible, reported in a very long article the washington post in December 2022.
A “test” strike on one of the gates of the dam had even been carried out: the objective was to see if the water of the Dnieper could rise and prevent the crossing for the Russians, without flooding the neighboring villages, explained to the American media Andriy Kovalchuk, commander of the Ukrainian counter-offensive in the Kherson region.
The Contradictions of Volodymyr Zelensky
The test “was a success”, assured the soldier, who however did not set up this operation “of last resort”.
The Ukrainian army therefore did not need to blow up the dam to push back the Russian troops beyond the Dnieper, and succeeded in liberating the city of Kherson on November 11, 2022. The power plant and the dam have since remained in the hands of of Vladimir Putin’s army.
A state of affairs that allows Volodymyr Zelenksy to accuse Russia of being responsible for the partial destruction of the dam on Tuesday, while contradicting the words of Andriy Kovalchuck reported by the washington post.
According to the Ukrainian president, “it is physically impossible to blow up (the dam) in one way or another from the outside, with bombardments”, the version put forward by Moscow to explain this destruction in the night.
Source: BFM TV