Why the Kakhovka dam is key for Crimea and what are the consequences of its destruction

The Kakhovka dam, which kyiv accuses Moscow of having destroyed on Tuesday, is a key infrastructure of southern Ukrainewhich supplies water to the Crimean peninsula, annexed by Russia.

Both the dam and the hydroelectric power station were taken by Russian troops at the start of the invasion of Ukrainereleased on February 24, 2022.

the dam, on the Dnieper River and 150 kilometers from the Zaporizhia nuclear power plantis now on the front line between the regions controlled by Moscow and the rest of the Ukraine, just as kyiv’s troops are constantly testing Russian defenses in the face of a major counteroffensive.

The authorities imposed by Russia in the Ukrainian town of New Kakhovka declared a state of emergency in the city after the rupture of the upper structure of the dam and the partial flooding of the area

The water level in the town, occupied for more than 15 months by Russia, now rises to more than 10 meters, indicated the mayor of the town imposed by Moscow, Vladimir Leontiev. “The water has risen, it continues to rise. Within 72 hours, according to forecasts, it will go down. The city is flooding, the Dnieper avenue is already under water. This means that the water has risen more than 10 meters”, Leontiev told the Russian media, according to the official agency TASS.

Authorities urged residents of six towns near the damaged New Kakhovka hydroelectric power station to prepare for evacuation if necessary after the dam was damaged by alleged overnight Ukrainian attacks. “If required, we are ready to evacuate to the residents of the coastal villages (of the Dnieper River), buses have been prepared,” said the president of the Kherson occupation government, Andrei Alekseenko, in a Telegram message.

At the moment, the evacuation of the inhabitants of some 300 houses, located on the banks of the Dnieper river in New Kakhovka, has begun, where, according to Leontiev, the Ukrainian forces continue to attack the city with missiles.

The current hydroelectric power station continues to collapse and the water is discharged “without control”the mayor told Russian television.

This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies shows an image of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine on June 5 (Maxar Technologies via AP) (Uncredited/)

The destruction of the dam could cause significant difficulties in the water supply of Crimea, a territory that kyiv wants to recover.

The dam’s levee, made of concrete and earth, has 16 meters high and 3,273 meters long. It is one of the largest infrastructures of its kind in Ukraine. The power of the hydroelectric plant is 334.8 megawatts, according to the Ukrainian operator, Ukrgidroenergo.

Built in 1956 during Soviet times, the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam allows to send water to the North Crimean canalwhich starts in southern Ukraine and crosses the entire Crimean peninsula, occupied and annexed by Moscow since 2014.

Upstream of the structure is the Kakhovka Reservoir, an artificial water reservoir formed on the Dnieper River, 240 km long and up to 23 km wide.

The incident on Tuesday flooded several towns totally or partially, according to the Ukrainian authorities, who denounced “a war crime” From Russia.

The goal of the terrorists is clear: to create obstacles to the offensive actions of the Ukrainian armed forces.estimated Mijailo Podoliak, adviser to the presidency.

The authorities installed by Moscow in the Kherson region, in southern Ukraine, accused Kiev of having carried out “multiple attacks” on the dam.

According to kyiv, “Some 16,000 people are in a critical zone”, threatened with flooding, while Moscow estimated that 14 towns, in which “more than 22,000 people” reside, are in this situation, although the outlook is “entirely under control”.

Last October, at a time of intense fighting in the area during a successful Kiev counter-offensive, Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky accused Russian troops of having undermined the dam and power plant units.

(With information from AFP and EFE)

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