Ukraine's Kakhovka Dam Breach: What All Happened And What's At Stake | EXPLAINED

The collapse of the Kakhovka Dam in southern Ukraine unleashed floodwaters across the war zone, resulting in hundreds of people fleeing their homes. The dam supplied electricity, irrigation and drinking water to the southern Ukraine region as well as the annexed Crimean Peninsula. Ukrainian officials blamed Russia for the breach and stated that about 42,000 people were at risk from the flooding. The North Crimean Canal is also susceptible to water shortage due to the disaster, reportedly impacting the region as it provides 85% of Crimea's water needs.

Updated Jun 7, 2023 | 04:53 PM IST

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Ukraine Dam Breach

Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky has blamed Russia for the collapse of the dam. (Photo credit: Twitter)

Photo : Twitter
Ukraine Dam Breached: The Soviet-era dam in southern Ukraine was breached on Tuesday, unleashing floodwaters across the war zone. The destruction of the dam was followed by a blame game between Ukraine and Russia with both countries holding each other responsible for the catastrophe. Ukraine held Russia accountable for the breach as it called the event a "terrorist attack" whereas Russia said Ukraine sabotaged the dam to cut off water supplies to Crimea and distract attention from a "faltering" counter-offensive.

What Actually Happened?

Several experts have pointed out that the collapse of the Kakhovka Dam was due to a deliberate explosion while the chances of structural failure or an attack from outside the dam were possible but less plausible explanations. Ukraine officials called it a deliberate move by Russia as they were in a position to detonate explosives from within. Russia also blamed Ukraine but did not elaborate much on the details.


The Kakhovka Dam is 30 metres (98 feet) tall and 3.2 km (2 miles) long. The construction of the dam began under Soviet leader Josef Stalin and finished under Nikita Khrushchev. The dam presently lies in the Russian-controlled territory bridging the Dnipro River, which forms the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces in the south of Ukraine. The dam is of great significance as it helps provide electricity, irrigation and drinking water to the Southern Ukraine region as well as the Crimean Peninsula annexed by Russia.

What's At Stake

Floodwaters from a collapsed dam kept rising in southern Ukraine on Wednesday, forcing hundreds of people to flee their homes in a major emergency operation that brought a dramatic new dimension to the war with Russia, now in its 16th month. Ukrainian officials estimated about 42,000 people were at risk from the flooding.

Impact On Crimea

The water levels of the Soviet-era North Crimean Canal is at risk of reducing due to the destruction of the dam. This will cause a shortage of water in the region as this canal supplies Crimea with 85% of its water needs.

The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant Is At Risk Too

Europe's largest nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is also at risk as it gets water needed for its cooling from the reservoir. "Our current assessment is that there is no immediate risk to the safety of the plant," International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said.
However, Ukrainian officials said the Russians wanted to create an emergency at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, which uses river water for cooling, to stall an expected Ukrainian offensive.
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