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Frontline report: Kakhovka flooding prompts Ukraine to evacuate troops from Kherson islands

Flooding due to the Kakhovka Dam failure on the Dnipto River in Kherson Oblast. Screenshot from the video.
Frontline report: Kakhovka flooding prompts Ukraine to evacuate troops from Kherson islands
The Kahovka Hydroelectric Power Plant in southern Ukraine experienced partial destruction on 6 June, leading to widespread flooding, military setbacks, and raising disputes regarding the future implications.

Day 468: Jun 06

On 6 June, the biggest news comes from the Kherson region. Here, due to the partial destruction of the Kahovka Hydroelectric Power Plant, the water has wiped out dozens of settlements and islands and caused a huge ecological and humanitarian problem.

Kakhovka dam to deteriorate further over next days, causing additional flooding – UK intel

The dam is an extremely powerful structure that can only be damaged by planting tons of explosives. The Russian Ministry of Defense claimed that this is exactly what Ukrainians did. Defense Minister Shoigu reported that Russian forces completely defeated the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Ukrainians decided to compensate for the losses by redeploying everyone from Kherson Oblast, and because Ukrainians were afraid that Russians would take advantage of the empty front line and again capture Kherson, Ukrainians blew up the dam.

The Ukrainian side responded by pointing out that the hole in the dam is located in the middle, and since Russians had destroyed the bridge on the Ukrainian side, only Russians had access to the middle section of the dam, and only Russians could transport tons of explosives.

Ukrainian officials claimed that Russians decided to blow up the dam because Ukrainians had gradually established control over all islands and were ready open a second southern front and conduct an amphibious operation. In fear that they would not be able to cope with the Ukrainian offensive in Zaporizhzhia and Kherson simultaneously, Russians blew up the dam and wiped out all Ukrainian positions on the islands.

Interestingly, some Ukrainian sources pointed out that the same occupation officials that blamed Ukraine at first pretended that there were no explosions. The news about the explosion started appearing at 2 a.m. At 3 a.m., the occupation mayor of Nova Kahovka reported that the news about the explosion is fake and that he is in the town and confirms that the night has been quiet. 50 minutes later, he said that Ukrainians had been shelling the dam all night and damaged the floodgates.

The analysts concluded that Russians tried to make a relatively small hole in the dam to flood only Ukrainians on the islands. Close to 4 a.m., they understood that they had screwed up because the power of water gradually amplified the destruction, and the top part of the dam started to fall apart.

One week before Kakhovka explosion, Russia suspended accountability for military-caused hazards

As a result, the Ukrainian counteroffensive from the Kherson direction is temporarily canceled (there were no confirmed reports about any Ukrainian plans to launch a counteroffensive across the Dnipro river, logistics of sustaining such an operation poses a lot of questions, – Ed.). The river is now 4-5 kilometers wide, so Ukrainians will be spotted and destroyed before even getting close to the other side of the river. As of June 6 evening, Ukrainians were evacuating the troops and ammunition they had shipped to the islands.

Interestingly, Russians are doing the same. Because the flood turned out to be much bigger than expected, a lot of Russian positions were gradually cut off from the mainland and turned into shrinking islands. In the morning, many Russian social media channels started warning all Russian soldiers that they had only two hours to leave, not three days. This means that Russian forces were preliminarily informed to abandon their positions, however, because the timing turned out to be off, not all Russian soldiers could be saved on time, and many of them were wiped out by the current.

Because the flood turned out to be much more severe, in the long run, Russian may even end up inflicting more damage to themselves. Some Ukrainian analysts reported that many parts of the first line of Russian defense have already appeared underwater. Most of the ammunition and equipment will not be saved, the trenches will be turned into pools, and the fortification along the bank will be wiped out. The water is expected to recede in around 2 weeks, and Russians are unlikely to resupply the whole Kherson group.

Simultaneously, as the water level upstream is rapidly dropping, the width of the river in this region can shrink to the point where Ukrainians will unlock a new direction for an amphibious attack and will be able to pick the place on a 250 km front instead of just 70. Such an attack will be even more destructive to the Russian plans, as they will not be able to deploy enough troops to police the whole eastern bank, while simultaneously defending against the counteroffensive in Zaporizhzhia.

In our daily frontline report, we pair up with the military blogger Reporting from Ukraine to keep you informed about what’s happening on the battlefield in the Russo-Ukrainian war.

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