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Today the Dniepro river dam at Kakhovka was breached. It is not obvious which side is responsible. While the Ukrainina side blames the Russians, the Russian side, obviously, blames the Ukrainians. So far the arguments I have heard for the Russian position are

  • a comment that Ukraine had shelled the area at the dam before,
  • allegation that Ukraine wants to harm the Russian-held Crimea, as part of it is supplied with water from the reservoir.

What other possible reasons are there, and what have commentators and politicians on the Russian side told so far about the alleged reasons of Ukraine blowing up the dam?


The reason I am asking this question is a very personal deficit. I am able to read media in English and German, but not in Russian. In order to build an opinion, I'd like to understand and compare the arguments of both sides. But what I find so far is that the media I read take a lot of time to cite pro-Ukrainian positions, while the Russian arguments seem to show up in quite short sentences.

This lead me to ask you if there were arguments offered that were missing in my personal selection of media, or that did not appear to me while thinking about it. There is a one-sidedness to my question in that I feel I have heard sufficiently from one side, but not the other.

But please, do not take this as promoting a certain view of events. Evaluating the arguments should not be done here.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Politics Meta, or in Politics Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – CDJB
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 12:44
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    Question about Ukraine is on topic, identical question about Russia off topic, amazing. I think now both should be closed.
    – Stančikas
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 15:24
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    @Stančikas Russia is open again, for now. . Yo yo continues ;-). But yes, either both up or both down, mods should close the odd one if needed Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 16:35
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    Can we resurrect one of convert's deleted answers? The latest is pretty solid and whatever was wrong with its first iteration or the delete/report cycling doesn't seem to warrant perma-nuking a serviceable attempt at answering. Commented Jun 8, 2023 at 1:40
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    I'd like to point out that the bounty is not offered by me, the question author.
    – ccprog
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 13:24

4 Answers 4

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According to the official Russian government sources, the military arguments why Ukraine blew up the Kakhovka dam are as follows:

  1. It serves to deprive Crimea of water.
  2. It serves to relocate Ukrainian troops to the attack positions away from the Kherson region.
  3. It is connected to the unsuccessful Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Making sense of these goals, especially of goals 2 and 3 together, is left as an exercise to the reader.

References:

Одна из целей подрыва киевским режимом Каховской ГЭС связана с тем, чтобы лишить Крым воды, заявил пресс-секретарь президента России Дмитрий Песков. Министр обороны России Сергей Шойгу заявил, что Киевский режим подорвал Каховскую ГЭС, чтобы перебросить войска в район своих наступательных действий с херсонского направления, ослабив там свои позиции. По словам министра, Киев совершил теракт, подорвав Каховскую ГЭС, это привело к затоплению значительных территорий.

МИД России назвал подрыв Каховской ГЭС террористическим актом - РИА Новости, 06.06.2023

One of the goals of blowing up by the Kyiv regime by the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant is connected to depriving Crimea of water, said Dmitry Peskov, Press Secretary of the President of Russia. Minister of Defence of Russia Sergei Shoigu said that the Kyiv regime blew up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant in order to relocate the troops into the region of its attack from the Kherson direction, weakening its positions there. According to the Minister, Kyiv carried out the terrorist act by having blown up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, and this caused flooding of substantial territories.

MoD of Russia called the breach of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant a terrorist act - RIA News, 06.06.2023


Песков заявил, что диверсию на Каховской ГЭС совершила Украина. По его словам, она связана с неудачным контрнаступлением Киева. [...] Министр обороны РФ Сергей Шойгу отметил, что цель подрыва Киевом Каховской ГЭС заключается в переброске подразделений ВСУ с херсонского направления в район наступления.

Что известно о прорыве Каховской ГЭС - ТАСС, 06.06.2023

[Dmitry] Peskov [Press Secretary of the President of Russia] said that the diversion at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant was carried out by Ukraine. According to him, it [the divsersion] was connected to the unsuccessful counteroffensive by Kyiv. [...] Minister of Defense of RF Sergei Shoigu said that the goal of Kyiv's blowing up of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant consists of relocation of Ukrainian Army units from the Kherson direction to the region of the attack.

What is known about the breach of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant - TASS, 06.06.2023

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    It is interesting that the exact mirror arguments about moving troops away from the Kherson region has been used by Ukrainian-friendly voices: By making the territory harder to pass, Russia gains the opportunity to move forces to the Donbass.
    – ccprog
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 20:47
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    Far from "exact mirror"! Russia is led by a known war criminal, Russia has been destroying Ukrainian infrastructure, Russian missiles terrorize civilians. The Kakhovka destruction is much more consistent with Russian than Ukrainian, actions so far. See: UN: Half of Ukraine's Energy Infrastructure Destroyed by Russia, Russian strikes against Ukrainian infrastructure, etc. Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 22:01
  • @TimurShtatland If your comment was triggered by my use of the plural for "arguments", I apologise. This is merely a typo, I wanted just to point out the similarity in that single argument, without any judgment about its merrit when voiced by one side or the other, or generally saying which side has the better arguments. Like you said, leave it as an exercise to the readers.
    – ccprog
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 12:41
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    @TimurShtatland, what's going on is a straightforward war - there's nothing exceptional about killings or destruction. I don't think anyone is discounting that Russia may have blown the dam, but so long as the two sides don't agree on what is true, it will be impossible to tell which one is lying. Neither side sustains a fatal blow, and rationales can be found for either having executed the act, so we will probably not know until much later, if ever.
    – Steve
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 19:42
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    @Steve discount or not, there is no chance that Russia didn't blow up the dam. This answer addresses whether Ukraine may have gained any military benefit from it, but it is still unquestionably Russia that did it.
    – wrod
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 23:27
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I haven't seen official explanations, but here is an explanation by Igor Strelkov, a prominent Russian military blogger and former minister of defense in the Donetsk People's Republic (my translation):

On the situation with the blowing up of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station. So far, briefly (information from the field has not yet reached, as of yesterday - everything was very calm, no one expected anything).

  1. The blowing up clearly was pre-planned, purposeful and has an important place in the enemy's offensive plans.

  2. So far, the following main goals seem to be:

  • "wash away" our troops from the left bank of the Dnieper below Novaya Kakhovka. That includes all defensive structures, all minefields will be "washed away", all field ammunition depots will be flooded, all property which the army won't have time to evacuate will be completely or partially destroyed (and there will be a lot of this, unfortunately);

  • to create conditions for capturing of the Kinburn Spit (which will also be partially flooded and turned into an island by flooding). If the enemy succeeds in capturing the Kinburn Spit now, he will unblock the Ochakov port and the mouth of the Dnieper. It will be extremely difficult to recapture the spit (in the current conditions, it will be nearly impossible);

  • create a threat (in a week or two) of crossing the Dnieper in a wide area above Novaya Kakhovka - after a very significant decrease in the level of the reservoir and the same narrowing of the current water barrier. Whether they plan to cross or not is unpredictable, but the command of Russian Armed Forces will have to transfer additional Ukranian army to this sector for sure (otherwise they will definitely cross and create a bridgehead).

Original text in Russian

Strelkov also claims in the following posts, that apart from this, another advantage for Ukraine will be that the Russian Federation will now be burdened with disaster relief possibly affecting 30-50 thousand embittered refugees who may have partially or wholly lost their property as a result of the flooding. For the 10-20 thousand that will be affected on the Ukranian side, it also provides ammunition to the Ukranian for further propaganda that "the evil Muscovites blew up the hydroelectric dam."

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    "A prominent military blogger" seems to be leaving a salient part of this esteemed person's CV: convicted of blowing up MH17 flight, killing 298, at the Hague . Still, +1 for actually listing possible and somewhat credible reasons. Outweighed by the much larger disadvantages to Ukraine, sure, but still... Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 15:49
  • @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica Credible? Wrecking havoc to roads and bridges you would need yourselves to advance, or to move through the mud at the bottom of a former sea bed do not look too compelling to me.
    – ccprog
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 15:54
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica that's literal translation of the quote. I am not sure why this should be taken out. I mean, it mentiones the theory that doesn't Kiev doesn't care about Russian minorities (important theory in this context) and also gives a clue what kind of the person Strelkov is.
    – kandi
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 16:01
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica I just looked at the article you linked, and I can't find the name Strelkow among the convicted. Care to comment?
    – ccprog
    Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 16:13
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    @ccprog good catch, I was sloppy in picking up the first clear article. our good buddy has aliases. Girkin == Strelkov : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Igor_Girkin interfax.com/newsroom/top-stories/85062 Well, actually articles all use his real name for the Hague judgment, not Strelkov. Commented Jun 6, 2023 at 16:17
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+100

The territory controlled by Russia is more affected by the destruction up the Kakhovka dam. Even the Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Anna Malyar confirms that:

The explosion of the Kakhovskaya HPP led to the flooding of the positions of the Russian military – the Ministry of Defense

Deputy Minister of Defense of Ukraine Anna Malyar reported that the explosion of the Kakhovskaya HPP caused the flooding of the positions of Russian military units. This is reported by Ukrinform.

"The positions of Russian military units were flooded, which could lead to a large–scale washing away of Russian minefields and their detonation in a chaotic manner," Malyar wrote.

(She mentioned this while explicitly blaming Russia for blowing up the Kakhovka dam).

Russian media outlet Pravda also outlines some reasons in favour of Kiev being behind the act, in its article Destruction of the Kakhovskaya HPP dam: versions, causes, consequences:

The reasons for Kiev may be as follows:

  • Create a media channel for further sanctions against the Russian Federation and NATO's assistance to the Armed Forces. The visit of the British Foreign Minister James Cleverley to Ukraine, which ended yesterday, falls into this context ... the adviser to the head of the office of the president, Daria Zarivna, noted that "the undermining of the Kakhovskaya HPP is fraught with a sharp desalination of the Black Sea." The head of the European Council, Charles Michel, stressed that he was shocked by the attack on the Kakhovskaya HPP, blamed Russia for it and called the incident a "war crime".

  • Stop the Russian counterattack in the Kherson region;

  • Flood the Russian defenses and advance themselves when the Dnieper becomes shallow — upstream.

  • Deprive Crimea of water in summer;

  • shift the focus from the failed counteroffensive of the Ukrainian Armed Forces on June 4-5.

It is doubtful that the Russian army decided to drown itself and at the same time leave the NPP and Crimea without water. Again, the river level downstream should recover soon, so if this interferes with the APU offensive, it will be temporary.

Also one of the versions for the collapse of the spans of the Kakhovskaya HPP blames Ukraine indirectly. This version claims that it collapsed itself, as it was previously half-destroyed by the bombing of the APU, when the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation were in Kherson. The spans simply could not stand it — the resistance of the materials reached the limit .

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  • I suggest that instead of posting new answers, you add this content to your previous answer that was deleted. And then appeal against the delete by clicking the "Undelete" link. Your previous answer was deleted unfairly, but posting new answers will be seen as trying to bypass moderation. Rather, trust the community and allow the reviewers to consider your content on its merit. (While it can be frustrating to see your research and effort in posting an answer here not be appreciated, and downvoted or deleted, don't view this as a confrontation but a discussion. Be patient with the community).
    – sfxedit
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 4:16
  • I'm failing to see the reason why someone would so desperately try posting the same content over and over. (1) two of your posts have been already deleted by the community, and this "answer" speaks essentially same arguments: slowing the UA counteroffensive, undermining RU positions on the left bank, prior UA destruction of RU-controlled bridges, depriving water to Crimea, accusations of RU committing war crimes […] Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 11:28
  • […] (2) The supporting links are different, but it not a tremendously hard task to find different links in a country where all media are controlled and must talk the same. (3) as of now, other answers above have reached relatively high scores as they address the same points, however do so in a much more neutral manner. (4) Your recent actions are being discussed here on Meta, please join if you wish. Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 11:29
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    @Be Brave Be Like Ukraine This is not the same content as in previous question, this time I have not reused anything from the previous answer. Also I have used an Ukrainian sorce this time, so you can´t just call it Russian propaganda. I defenetly should be more patient next time, this is something I am going to apologize for.
    – convert
    Commented Jun 9, 2023 at 11:46
  • Where does it say it affects Russia more than Ukraine? You say that in your first sentence but the quote doesn't make that comparison at all. If anything the floating of mines seems a problem for Ukraine mostly because they're all floating on Ukrainian land, it's not like the mines will flow to Russia all of a sudden. That is, if the Russian troops retreat from the flooded area it will be the Ukrainians who are stuck with the mines
    – JJJ
    Commented Jun 10, 2023 at 7:44
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The Washington Post, in an article on December 29, 2022 describes how the Ukranian had considered, practised and simulated blowing up the dam in 2022:

“There were moments when we turned off their supply lines completely, and they still managed to build crossings,” Kovalchuk said. “They managed to replenish ammunition. … It was very difficult.”

Kovalchuk considered flooding the river. The Ukrainians, he said, even conducted a test strike with a HIMARS launcher on one of the floodgates at the Nova Kakhovka dam, making three holes in the metal to see if the Dnieper’s water could be raised enough to stymie Russian crossings but not flood nearby villages. The test was a success, Kovalchuk said ...

The left bank of the Dnieper, which is controlled by Russia, is lower than the right bank controlled by Ukraine. So Russia is getting more damage by the flood of water. This flooding will damage and deactivate many of the minefields laid out by Russia and could help Ukrainian troops to more easily cross unencumbered to the Russian side (via boats etc.).

As can be seen on Russian maps showing the river and its surrounding areas before the dam was destroyed:

The river before the Kakhovka dam was blown up

and the flooding that occurred after the dam was destroyed:

Flooding after the Kakhovka dam was blown up

- the side controlled by Russia is more affected.

Military experts quoted in an article - Why did Kiev decide to flood: What is happening at the Kakhovskaya HPP (Russian) - describe how this further helps the Ukranian:

Why did the Armed Forces of Ukraine blow up the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station

The Dnieper spill complicates the AFU's plans for a counteroffensive in the southern direction. But it improves the situation in the direction above the Dnieper ... The May rains greatly increased the level of the reservoir above the dam.

The undermining of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power station is connected with the plans of Kyiv, and is part of the general operation of the counteroffensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. It was a man-made explosion, with predictable results in the key - how much water will flow, how long the river will overflow. This affected the positions of the Russian army on the left bank. Because most of the settlements that were located on this side of the Dnieper, the same Bare Pier and a number of others, were equipped with Russian fortified areas, from which attacks were carried out on the AFU, military experts say.

"Now they are flooded, we can't use mortar artillery and we can use barrel artillery to a very limited extent. The enemy gets the opportunity to concentrate artillery complexes and multiple launch rocket systems on the right bank and work according to the scheme of stray artillery, shelling our settlements further than usual," military expert Alexey Leonkov comments on the situation.

According to him, the lowered water level to the Kakhovka reservoir will make it possible to build pontoon crossings for the transfer of troops ... According to our experts, the explosion will ... eventually affect the North Crimean Canal.

(Translated from Russian source using Google and Yandex translate).

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    +1 Would those downvoting care to explain why they are downvoting? The question asked why Ukraine would blow up the dam and this is one possible answer.
    – sfxedit
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 7:56
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    @convert if the answer is deleted by the community and you disagree with the deletion, then please create a post on our meta site explaining your argument rather than just reposting the deleted answer.
    – CDJB
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 10:59
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    @convert community voting, like delete- and down-votes that your post has reaped a rich harvest of, exists for a purpose. Posting a duplicate for a single purpose of evading the community vote, as one of the forms of sockpuppetry, should be considered a severe violation of the very founding principles of Stack Exchange. Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 11:30
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    Not the down voter, but can probably explain some of it: (1) this was originally an unsourced claim that Ukrainians can now just swim/boat across minefields - which is both ridiculous and suggests an unsupported amphibious assault would somehow be easier than a ground assault; (2) the quotes don't seem intellectually honest, and (3) the claims from the author don't seem well supported by the current quotes.
    – bharring
    Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 13:00
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    @sfxedit A downvoter, not VTD, and what bharring said in (1). Most of my initial objections are gone by now. IMHO, this Q doesn't really need said military arguments to be 100% right and uncounterable, only to be reasonably relevant, in a military sense (ruckpack-carrying, mine-swimming grunts were not). This iteration is much more solid and on-topic. Stripped of the political verbiage, for example the entire Nikita Mendkovich quote, I'd be inclined to upvote instead. Commented Jun 7, 2023 at 15:56

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