The breach could result in devastating flooding, potentially killing thousands of civilians
The Kakhovskaya hydroelectric dam in Russia's Kherson Region, located on the Dnepr River upstream from the city of Kherson, suffered significant damage on Tuesday morning, according to a local official and several videos shared on social media.
The upper part of the key infrastructure was "destroyed as a result of a strike," the mayor of Novaya Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontyev, confirmed to RIA Novosti. While several of the dam's floodgates were damaged and unleashed an uncontrolled stream of water, the underwater structure itself withstood the attack, the official claimed.
Leontyev described the incident as a major "terrorist act" and said the water level downstream had risen by up to 2.5 meters, but added there was no need for evacuations thus far. He noted that the area has seen higher water levels during previous floods caused by heavy rainfall, but emphasized that local officials were focused on helping citizens as they prepare for a worst-case scenario.
"All services work in the city, all administration employees are in place. Electricity, gas, internet, communications are available," the mayor continued.
The dam was reportedly struck around 2am local time. A video captured from a drone has circulated on Telegram, purporting to show the aftermath of the attack, with streams of water seen flowing through the breach.
Moscow has repeatedly blamed Kiev for numerous attacks on the Kakhovskaya dam, warning that a breach could result in the deaths of thousands of civilians. In turn, Ukraine has claimed that Russia was planning to blow up the dam in a false-flag operation aimed at framing Kiev for the flooding.
The persistent threat was cited as one of the main reasons for evacuating civilians from certain communities in the area, and an eventual pullout of Russian forces from the city of Kherson to the left bank of the Dnepr River.
Russian military and civilian officials, including acting Kherson Governor Vladimir Saldo, warned at the time that many areas in the region, including the city of Kherson, could be flooded if the Kakhovskaya dam were destroyed.
Kherson Region was officially declared part of Russia in early October, together with Zaporozhye Region and the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, after people in those territories overwhelmingly supported the move in referendums. Kiev and its Western backers have labeled the votes a "sham" and vowed to recapture the territories using any means necessary.
Ukraine considered blowing up the dam to paralyze Russian forces who were defending the city of Kherson - and even "conducted a test strike with a HIMARS launcher on one of the floodgates" - a former head of Ukraine's Operational Command South, Major General Andrey Kovalchuk, admitted in an interview with the Washington Post in December.