Kyiv and Moscow have exchanged accusations regarding the explosion of the Novaya Kakhovka Dam in the Kherson region, southern Ukraine. While Kyiv announced “successes” near Bahmut in the northeast, Russia warned of Ukraine’s potential use of “dirty bombs.”
The Ukrainian army accused Russian forces of detonating the dam, while the Russians, who control parts of Kherson, responded by accusing Ukraine of using rocket launchers to cause the explosion.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated that approximately 80 residential areas, with a population of over 22,000, are now threatened by flooding. Efforts are underway to evacuate the residents by trains to the Mykolaiv region.
On the other hand, the Ukrainian Energy Commission stated that the Novaya Kakhovka power station has been completely destroyed and cannot be rebuilt or repaired. They also added that the water level in the dam’s reservoir is rapidly decreasing, posing an additional threat to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
On the other hand, the Russian side indicated that the upper part of the hydroelectric power station in the Kakhovka Dam was destroyed as a result of shelling, but the dam itself was not destroyed.
Russian media quoted pro-Russian authorities in Kherson as stating that evacuation operations have commenced for residents from several areas in Novaya Kakhovka following the dam explosion.
The governor of Novaya Kakhovka, who is loyal to Russia, stated that the collapse of the dam continues and that the water flow is out of control after the water level rose to 10 meters.
In the first Ukrainian reactions, the Ukrainian presidency considered the explosion of the Kakhovka Dam aimed at slowing down the Ukrainian counteroffensive. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called for an emergency meeting with the Chief of Staff to discuss the consequences of the Novaya Kakhovka Dam explosion.
Zelensky believes that the destruction of the Novaya Kakhovka Dam sends a message to the world that the so-called Russian terrorists must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian territory. He added that the terrorists will not be able to stop Ukraine’s water supply or missiles or anything else.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal stated that the Russian forces’ explosion of the Kakhovka Dam is a terrorist act that threatens to flood up to 80 Ukrainian towns. The evaluation of the environmental consequences and the potential threat to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is underway.
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba considered the Russian destruction of the dam as potentially causing the largest technological disaster in Europe in decades and putting thousands of civilians at risk.
Russian concerns about “dirty bombs”
In a notable development, the Russian State Security Agency has warned that Ukrainian military intelligence is planning to plant “dirty bombs” on Russian territory.
According to the Russian State Security Agency, Ukrainian military intelligence has established an airborne unit to carry out sabotage operations against Russia, stating that this unit has conducted 5 sorties and targeted energy facilities.
Last October, General Igor Kirillov, the commander of Russia’s Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Protection Troops, warned that “based on the information available to us, there are two Ukrainian institutions with specific instructions to manufacture the so-called dirty bomb, and they have entered the final stage of their work.”
A radiological or “dirty bomb” consists of conventional explosives packed with radioactive materials to disperse them in the dust upon detonation.