Washington Examiner

Zelensky labels Ukraine dam destruction as ‘environmental disaster’.

Explosion at Major Dam in Ukraine Raises Concerns of Flooding

A major dam in southern Ukraine was severely damaged in an explosion on Tuesday, raising concerns that dozens of towns downstream are at risk of significant and overwhelming flooding. Both Russian and Ukrainian leaders pointed the finger at each other for responsibility for the attack that occurred at the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River near Kherson, which separates both countries’ troops.

“The blow-up of the Kakhovka HPP by [R]ussians is a fundamentally new stage of [R]ussian aggression. The complete and final dismantling of the whole false ideological [K]remlin construct took place: ‘liberation of Ukraine’, ‘fight against the Nazis,’ ‘targeting only military objects’ and other purely propagandistic and false theses,” Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said on Twitter.


Russia had been in control of the hydroelectric plant since it seized it in February 2022.

Danilov said President Volodymyr Zelensky called an emergency meeting due to the dam’s explosion, which could complicate Ukraine’s efforts at retaking land in the country’s south in its highly anticipated counteroffensive that the president said days ago was ready to begin.

The Largest Man-Made Environmental Disaster in Europe in Decades

The Ukrainian leader said, “Russia has detonated a bomb of mass environmental destruction. This is the largest man-made environmental disaster in Europe in decades. It is the most dangerous terrorist in the world. And that is why Russia’s defeat, a defeat that we’ll ensure anyway, will be the most significant contribution to the security of our region, our Europe, and the entire world,” adding that it was “physically impossible to blow [the dam] up somehow from the outside.”

Vladimir Leontyev, the Russian-appointed mayor of the city of Nova Kakhovka, said on Russian state TV, “The city is flooded.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov accused Kyiv of an act of “deliberate sabotage” and said Ukraine sought to destroy the dam in part to cut off the water supply from the river to Crimea, the southern peninsula of Ukraine that Russia annexed nearly a decade ago.

The Zaporizhzhia power plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, is further up the Dnipro River, though International Atomic Energy Agency officials said on Tuesday there’s “no immediate risk to the safety of the plant” since it is upstream from the dam.

Immediate Concerns and Risks

The main concern is that the level of water could dip below the required amount to ensure the plant has the necessary water for its cooling system. The water in the nearby reservoir needs to be at or above 12.7 meters to be pumped and was at 16.4 meters as of 8 a.m. on Tuesday. The explosion resulted in “a significant reduction in the level of the reservoir.” The plant has stopped using nonessential water consumption, but there is a large cooling pond next to the site that could be used and may provide sufficient water for cooling “for some months,” the IAEA said, though adding that it plans to confirm this.

Ukraine’s military intelligence department within the Ministry of Defense said the explosion was a move made “in panic” due to concerns about possible Ukrainian success in its coming counteroffensive.

Jens Stoltenberg, the head of NATO, called the explosion “an outrageous act” that “puts thousands of civilians at risk and causes severe environmental damage.”

In October, Zelensky warned that Russia was preparing a “false flag” operation, adding at the time, “We have information that Russian terrorists mined the dam and aggregates of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant.”

Stay tuned for more updates on this developing story.

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