Blowing up the Kakhovka Dam: Russia’s announced crime

Russian aggression and destruction of hydroelectric power plant

On May 30, a resolution was adopted in Moscow, according to which it is allowed to target hydroelectric power stations and any industrial facilities within the territory of Ukraine. The investigation of such “accidents” that occurred “as a result of military actions, sabotage” has been formally suspended until 2028.

Less than a week passed when an attack was carried out on an ammonia pipeline in the Kharkiv region (recorded as “sabotage”). And a day later, the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant was destroyed.

Since the hydroelectric power plant is under Russian occupation, initially they tried to frame it as an attack by Ukrainian HIMARS rocket launchers. This version was plainly absurd because there were no missile strikes involved. Moreover, the missile is not designed to destroy dams; much more powerful warheads are needed for that. HIMARS rocket launchers flew into the city located on the dam precisely last autumn. They hit their target accurately, but they couldn’t even bring down this much more vulnerable structure. The dam was actually built during Stalin’s time, with the expectation of being hit by large-caliber aerial bombs.

Moreover, the most heavily damaged section from the explosions in the autumn of 2022 remains intact to this day. Yes, those very first three spans from the right bank, where the upper structure of the dam was completely demolished, including the highway bridge, gates, and crane paths for their operation. It turns out that it didn’t rupture in the delicate areas…

So later on, they started developing the theme of a Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group, which discreetly hid several wagons of explosives and a surface kamikaze drone. In the worst-case scenario, the plant “floated away” on its own.

By the way, the latest version silently acknowledges that clumsy Russian troops did nothing to ensure the safety of the dam, which they blew up in November when fleeing from the right bank of the Kherson region.

Frankly speaking, all the versions, regardless of their absurdity, change very little. Russia is to blame for the catastrophe — if it weren’t for the invasion, the plant would have stood for another hundred years.

And under international law, the responsibility for the condition of objects on occupied territory lies with the aggressor itself, and no resolutions of the Russian government can cancel that.

However, the terms for the destruction of the hydroelectric power plant were pre-determined in the Russian document. According to it, even the farcical “Declaration of hydro-technical structure safety” does not apply to the captured hydro facilities until September 1st of this year. The plant was destroyed on the night of June 6.

See also: Sophie Lambroschini: “The destruction of critical infrastructure, in a sense, equals the destruction of civilization”

Seismographs recorded explosion signals at around 2:30 a.m., and the process of dam and powerhouse hall destruction lasted approximately 30 minutes.

The fact that explosives were brought to the plant in the autumn was known, and Ukraine had already been talking about the need to organize an international monitoring mission, similar to the one at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. However, those requests were quietly ignored. But now, the Council of Europe has expressed its concern over the catastrophe. Naturally, a deep concern, just like the once vast Kakhovka Reservoir.

At that time, in the autumn, all repair work and maintenance were halted. And on the eve of June 6, the water level in the reservoir was at its maximum.

Consequences and ecological impact of the catastrophe

As a result, an unprecedented ecological catastrophe occurred. Dozens of populated areas were flooded. In certain places, the river rose by ten meters. The rise of water only ceased on Thursday. However, Russia is not participating in the evacuation efforts, instead, it is shelling Ukrainian evacuation groups.

Upstream, the Kremenchuk Reservoir has almost disappeared. Water intakes of cities and pumping stations have been cut off from water. This poses problems for over a million people. Hundreds of thousands of hectares of irrigated land in the Zaporizhzhia and Kherson regions are also without water. Moreover, the supply of water to Crimea has been disrupted. Overall, it’s the “Russian world” as it is. But, on the other hand, now it will be more difficult for the Ukrainian Armed Forces to cross the river both upstream and downstream of the hydroelectric power plant (these banks will be a marsh of liquid mud for several weeks). Additionally, the flooded islands in the Dnipro river floodplains will also be submerged. Profit! As for the problems faced by the people and the region, which Moscow managed to include in its Constitution, the Kremlin couldn’t care less. Remember how, when leaving the same Kherson, Russians blew up all the major electric substations, leaving no trace of their foundations.

The destruction of the six hydro units at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant is not the first loss for Ukrhydroenergo (the Ukrainian state-owned enterprise that administers many major hydro power plants along the Dnipro and Dnister rivers). Russians have already targeted the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant, the Kyiv Hydroelectric Power Plant, and the Kremenchuk Hydroelectric Power Plant. Right now, calls are being made to “hit the Kyiv Hydroelectric Power Plant” again. Yes, it is necessary to be prepared in advance for all of this, without deceiving ourselves by relying on Russia’s humanity.

Ukraine repeats that Russia has allowed itself at the legislative level to destroy any critical infrastructure objects.

The destruction of the power plant has also affected the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. It relies on water from the Kakhovka Reservoir for cooling purposes. Currently, there is no immediate threat because the plant has its own isolated cooling pond. Furthermore, as of today, the plant is stationary, with only one unit in hot standby. However, if the plant needs to be started, the current cooling system will not be functional, and at the very least, a new water intake will need to be constructed for replenishment.

However, the dam on the Dnipro river will also need to be restored, at least initially, to simply restore water supply. Building a new hydroelectric power plant is a dream that requires billions of dollars in investment and years of work, but the dam is needed and relatively quickly.

See also: “Ukraine’s losses will amount to trillions of dollars” —  economist on the consequences of the war

Russians will try to destroy the equipment to the maximum extent in the event of the withdrawal from the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. This includes both substations and equipment in the turbine hall. Previously, it was believed that the reactors would not be tampered with. However, as the Kakhovka incident showed, there is simply no bottom there — they will tamper with them too… But first, they need to be removed from there.

International response and Ukraine’s approach

The IAEA mission should also be less sham. Otherwise, they will be shown the “Ukrainian sabotage and reconnaissance group that discreetly blew up Unit 2,” and… while waving a sledgehammer politely, they will be asked to sign the report.

It is also a painful lesson for Ukrainian diplomats and officials. When dealing with Russia, one should always expect the worst. Ukrhydroenergo had previously considered four scenarios for the development of events at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, and the option of complete destruction was considered the least likely. Perhaps for normal people, but for the Russian army, it’s a different logic.

The consequences of the catastrophe are overall devastating. ArcelorMittal in Kryvyi Rih (Ukraine’s largest integrated steel company) is partially on hold, as all its equipment is water-cooled. It is currently a mystery where Zaporizhzhia and Nikopol ferroalloy plants will source their water from.

Building under fire (and it will certainly be there) is challenging. Logistics below the dam are paralyzed, and part of the rapids will also emerge downstream of Zaporizhzhia on the Dnipro river. The losses in the agricultural sector are catastrophic. Grain and sunflower, well, they are not currently in excess, but they are growing everywhere. However, greengrocery and fruits from Kherson were consumed throughout Ukraine. This is just one hydroelectric power plant in the cascade. It would be wise to prepare for a worse scenario among the possible outcomes.

Moreover, the international reaction was once again feeble. The UN resolution was meaningless, an amorphous something: “one must not inflict suffering on the civilian population.” Who inflicted suffering on them until 4 a.m. on February 24, 2022? But the UN commemorated “Russian Language Day.” Right against the backdrop of the power station ruins and the flooded shore.

Something is leaking even at the diplomatic level. It needs to be caulk.

The war continues — the strikes are not the first, and unlikely to be the last. The Kremlin has repeatedly stated that the existence of Ukraine (and the Baltic countries) is not acceptable to them, an “existential threat,” they say. Ukraine should not stoop to their level, but it should also not forget that there is no bottom to their actions.

Originally posted by Ihor Maskalevych on Translated and edited by the UaPosition – Ukrainian news and analytics website

See also: How are cats, dogs, and sometimes ducks, chickens, goats, chinchillas, and parrots evacuated from the combat zone to a safe place?

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