Date: June 16, 2023   Updated: October 7, 2023
Bombing of Nova Kakhovka Dam, Dnieper (Dnipro) River, Kherson Region
June 6, 2023. Cui Bono? Ukraine is aiming for the greatest
prize: the re-capture of Crimea!
The collapse of Nova Kakhovka Dam in the Kherson region is one of the most grievous ecological catastrophe thus far in the war. The dam's destruction had led to devastating humanitarian and environmental disaster. As usual, Ukraine and Russia accused each other of committing the war crime.
Water supply to the cooling ponds of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power
Plant (ZNPP) could be a problem, but will not cause any imminent threat.
The reactors have been shut down for many months and only required
minimal amount of cooling to move residual heat out of their cores.
At least 150 tons of machine oil was swept into the Dnieper River, with
an additional 300 tons at risk of following.
Drinking water in the area is contaminated. Water supply to Russian
controlled Crimea is an additional challenge. It'll have to be trucked
in. Water from the reservoir feeding nearly 1,000 miles of irrigation
canals will not be available anymore.
An estimated 700,000 people on both sides of the river are in need
of clean water.
Which side has the strongest motive and which side has more to lose in this incident
The question to ask is always: cui bono? Flooding on the Ukrainian
controlled west bank and the Russian controlled east bank of the Dnipro
River has caused a lot of suffering. The west bank is of higher
elevation, while the east bank is low-lying. Many neighborhoods on the
west bank were untouched by the flood. But low-lying area on the east
bank encountered floods of over 10 feet. Obviously the Russian were
hurting more in this incident.
The greatest loss for Russia is that their defenses which took them
months to build were washed away. When Russian forces withdrew from the
city of Kherson in November 2022, they made a lot of efforts to build up
defensive fortifications and mined the area. They built trenches and
concrete anti-tank defenses - pyramid shaped concrete blocks placed in
rows. They also relocated some of their administrators away from Nova
Due to rising waters, Russians landmines planted months ago floated up,
and other defensive measures were rendered ineffective. Russia lost its
forward defensive line with all its engineering assets and minefields.
They were forced to retreat further away from the waist-deep water along
Frivolous arguments and distractions about who is responsible
Speculations that Russia caused the flood to slow down Ukrainian advance to Crimea does not make much sense. The Russians don't have to blow up the dam. All they need is to open the gate and let the water out, if that's what they wanted to do. And the other more pertinent question is timing. Why does Russia want to do it now? There is currently no obvious movement of Ukrainian equipment towards the river bank in the region. Anyone with strategic mindset will wait to flood the area only when Ukrainian soldiers are crossing the river and setting themselves up on the east bank.
If the Russians are doing it out of spite, there really is no hurry. They can do it anytime before they are forced to abandon Nova Kakhovka when and if they have to retreat.
One cannot avoid the question: In what way would such a disaster benefit Russia? The argument that Russia wanted to use the flood to effect a truce because it will force the Ukrainians to be busy saving people on the west bank simply does not hold water.
And there is a further puzzle. The water level in the Kakhovka reservoir
rose from 14 meters in February to 17.5 meters in early June due to
Ukraine opening the floodgates of dams upstream in the Dnieper River.
Previously, the reservoir water level rarely exceeded 16.5 meters. The
increased amount of water added to the severity of the flood. Is it just
a coincidence, or someone really wanted to maximize the effect of the
flood to its strongest possible level?
There was a suggestion that the dam's collapse was due to lack of
maintenance and not the result of sabotage activity. This is only for
the consumption of the credulous. The IAEA has been monitoring the
safety of Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP) and its cooling
reservoir very closely. The IAEA's observation after the collapse of
the dam was that it won't affect the safety of the ZNPP. If the dam
was in danger of collapse due to lack of maintenance, IAEA would
probably have sounded the alarm long time ago. Besides, what about the
dams upstream in the Dnieper River. No one seemed to worry that they
are on the brink of collapse due to lack of maintenance.
So it must be an inside job. Just who did it is not clear
The dam was a Cold War construction project, and was designed to
withstand almost any kind of external attack.
There was no evident of any external attack on the dam, like a
missile, a bomb or some other projectile. It is now assessed that the
explosion came from one or more charges set inside it. Only an
explosion within the gallery can cause that kind of damage to the
By Russian operatives: possible but unlikely.
It is highly unlikely that the top echelon of the Russian govt
instigated the operation.
As Russian troops were retreating across the Dnipro River in November
2022, they blew up the roadway atop the structure's northern end with a
powerful nighttime explosion. The blast destroyed the roadway, but that
the dam's foundation and the walls of the gates at that section of the
dam were unaffected.
By disgruntled or pro Ukraine Russians: possible and likely.
By Ukrainian special operatives: possible and likely.
It could be Ukrainian secret agents engaging in espionage and special
operations embedded in Russia.
It has everything to do with the upcoming Counteroffensive
Rivers are a formidable obstacle for both sides in the conflict, with attempts to cross them often putting troops in vulnerable positions.
The rainy season and the flood made the ground muddy and sticky and
currently unsuitable for heavy vehicles in southern Ukraine. The flood
will begin to recede in the coming days, and floodwaters that make the
soil swampy will dry in a few weeks with rising temperatures. The
expectations of a long-awaited counteroffensive will coincide with the
The real, momentous counteroffensive will not happen until the soil is
suitable for warfare. It is widely understood that Russia failed
miserably during the initial phase of the war due to the huge column of
tanks being bogged down in the mud.
Most important of all, Ukraine is waiting earnestly for the delivery of
F16 fighter jets, which is pivotal to the successful re-capture of
When the soil is dry and hard enough, Ukraine could begin moving armored
vehicles and heavy weaponry to the east bank. The threat of Russia
opening the gate to flood the Ukrainian soldiers when they are on the
east bank is now gone, and Ukraine can comfortably move their equipment
across the river. By then the great counteroffensive will begin. Blowing
up the dam now is part of shaping operations to deprive the Russians of
one potent weapon in their arsenal.
Ukraine is aiming for the greatest prize: the re-capture of Crimea
Ukraine wanted to take back Crimea as their top and ultimate goal. They will not be satisfied with anything short of that. All concomitant minor skirmishes in other areas such as Bakhmut are just distractions to confuse the world.
There is already a lot of pressure from many Western politicians on Ukraine to leave Crimea alone and let Russia hold it. If Ukraine made advances in the east with a lot of casualties on both sides, the talks that 'enough is enough' will only become louder and more forceful.
Ukrainians know that they only have one chance to take back Crimea. So,
when everything is ready, they will go for the jugular and aimed for the
greatest prize: the re-capture of Crimea.
The pressure will increase tremendously as the 2024 US presidential election campaign turns hot. Ukraine understands that she needed to get the job done before then.
Missile strike of the Chonhar Bridge
On June 22, 2023, Ukrainian missiles struck the Chonhar road bridge,
which connected Russian-held parts of Kherson region to the Crimean
Peninsula. This is a blow to Russian supply route and defense, as
alternative routes require hours-long detours and repairing the bridge
could take weeks. The bridge was beyond the reach of Ukrainian rockets
in the past, but is now within reach of newly deployed Western weapons.
All these are shaping operations for the grand counteroffensive to
re-capture Crimea. Several villages retaken here or there are just a
side-show, as Ukraine has yet to commit the bulk of its forces to the
Obviously, the Russian's strategy is just to keep their defensive
line generally intact as long as they can. Their main goal is to avoid
causing major upheaval and disruption within their own country.
But if the control of Crimea is threatened, Russia will not hesitate to
use the tactical nuclear weapons deployed (supposedly in July 2023) in
Belarus. Hopefully, the biggest disaster could be avoided!