Global Insight: Implications of Kakhovka Dam destruction

The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam could be an admission of defeat by Russia in its war against Ukraine.

Evidence is mounting that the Russian military was responsible for this week’s explosions that wrecked the huge hydroelectric dam, flooding a wide swathe of farmland and towns in southern Ukraine.

If a deliberate act, it is perhaps a sign Russian President Vladimir Putin knows he cannot hold on to the occupied territory and is opting to leave behind as much destruction as possible, Professor Robert Patman says.

"One argument being put forward is that Russia is adopting a policy of scorched earth," the University of Otago international affairs specialist says.

Water pours through the Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine, flooding large swaths of residential and...
Water pours through the Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine, flooding large swaths of residential and agricultural land downstream. Photo: Zelenskyy Social Media Account / Handout/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
The released water is flooding tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land, could ruin a further 500,000 hectares of farmland that depends on irrigation from the dam and will deprive annexed Crimea of 85% of its water.

"This has huge implications . . . Recognising they are not going to prevail but they are going to leave very little behind when they are inevitably forced out of the country."

Prof Patman told Global Insight the flooding was unlikely to do much to delay Ukraine’s much-anticipated counter-offensive aimed at driving Russian forces out of the country.

He also outlined the wide-ranging assistance liberal democracies, including New Zealand, have given Ukraine in preparation for its offensive and explained why so many nations have been helping. 

Full interview


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