In the early morning of June 06, the Nova Kakhovka dam in Kherson collapsed due to Russian detonation or neglect. Throughout their occupation of Ukrainian lands, Russian Forces have neglected various infrastructures, such as the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, or carpet bombed cities to the ground, such as Mariupol, Severodonetsk, and Bakhmut.

Though an official investigation hasn’t started, the dam’s destruction is the hallmark of Russian military strategies such as scorched earth techniques. Diplomats from the European Union and NATO’s Secretary General have already implemented Moscow as the perpetrator.

Prior Mining

Various reports of Russian Forces mining the Nova Kakhovka emerged last autumn when the Ukrainian Armed Forces (ZSU) were conducting their offensive toward Kherson City. Russia’s garrisons on the left bank along the Dnipro have prepared this contingency to stop a potential Ukrainian advance if the offensive extended on the other occupied side of Kherson.

In fear of their positions being untenable, Russian Forces withdrew from the right bank of the Dnipro River and consolidated on the left bank. Frequent shelling has made life hell for Ukrainian civilians in Kherson. Still, nonetheless, the ZSU has probed Russian defenses on their side of the River, stoking fears their counteroffensive could also include this area of operations.

Drone footage shared to social media shows the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam in Ukraine on June 06, 2023. Ukraine has warned that the dam’s destruction will have grave environmental consequences.

It Benefits Russian Defenses

The destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam directly benefits Russia the most. According to a November 11, 2022 report by the Kremlin-owned TASS news agency, Russia had filled Crimea’s water reservoirs for two years, giving them the contingency of blowing the structure in preparation for a Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Ukraine has increasingly put pressure on the Zaporizhzhia oblast to shape a potential offensive towards Melitopol and Mariupol to split the Russian invasion force in half and put Crimea under fire control.

Now that the dam is destroyed, Russia can temporarily deploy a substantial Kherson garrison to other theaters under pressure, such as the ‘grey zones’ of Zaporizhzhia, Bakhmut, and the increasingly under-pressure Belgorod oblast. The flooding delays a potential ZSU bridgehead crossing due to the humanitarian catastrophe, while Moscow has the opportunity to continue bolstering their already increasingly spread-thin military.