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NYT: Experts point to deliberate explosion behind Kakhovka dam disaster

by Kate Tsurkan June 7, 2023 1:37 PM 2 min read
An image shows the damage to the destroyed Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant in Kherson Oblast on the morning of June 6, 2023. (Energoatom)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Engineering and munitions experts point to a deliberate explosion as the most logical reason behind the Kakhovka dam explosion, the New York Times reported on June 7.

A mass humanitarian and ecological disaster unfolded after the Kakhovka dam collapsed around 2:50 a.m. on June 6. According to the Ukrainian authorities, the dam was blown up by Russian forces to prevent a Ukrainian counter-offensive.

According to experts cited by the New York Times, hard evidence of a deliberate explosion was "very limited" given that the dam was located in an active warzone, but "an internal explosion was the likeliest explanation for the destruction of the dam, a massive structure of steel-reinforced concrete that was completed in 1956."

The breach would have required "hundreds of pounds of explosives" to cause the kind of destruction that occurred and "an external detonation by bomb or missile would exert only a fraction of its force against the dam," the experts added.

The dam had previously sustained damage during fighting between Ukrainian and Russian forces since the start of the full-scale invasion last year, but the plant was "built to withstand an atomic bomb," Ihor Syrota, the head of Ukraine's state-owned energy company Ukrhydroenergo, said.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba criticized international media on June 6 that entertained Russian narratives that Ukraine might somehow be responsible for the Kakhovka dam's destruction, saying that it "puts facts and propaganda on equal footing."

Over 1,300 people have been rescued or preemptively evacuated from flood zones in the past 24 hours, according to the Interior Ministry, and relief efforts are ongoing.

Meanwhile, the President's Office reported that at least 150 tons of oil had spilled into the Dnipro River following the destruction of the dam, with the risk of 300 additional tons leaking.

The Agriculture Ministry also predicted on June 7 that the disruption caused to the biodiversity in the region by flooding would have unprecedenced economic and environmental consequences for years to come.

What are the consequences of the Kakhovka dam’s demolition?
The destruction of the Kakhovka dam can lead to serious humanitarian, ecological, economic, military, and legal consequences. The demolition was carried out by Russian forces in southern Ukraine in the early hours of June 6. And it’s among the most dramatic violations of the Geneva Conventions in…
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