Financial TimesFinancial Times

Dam breach gives Russia a new weapon in Ukraine war

By Ben Hall

06 Jun 2023 · 2 min read

Editor's Note

The destruction of the Kakhovka dam is more than a "psychological game," writes FT's Ben Hall. It will have long-lasting humanitarian and environmental consequences—as well as military implications.

After weeks of Ukrainian drone strikes on Russian territory and cross-border raids — a prelude to the long-awaited counter-offensive now gathering pace — it is Russia’s turn to distract and destabilise its enemy. The destruction of the Kakhovka dam over the Dnipro river is far more than a psychological game. It will have long-lasting humanitarian and environmental consequences and military implications.

Russia, which controls the area, has denied responsibility and blamed Ukrainian “sabotage” for the dam’s breach. These claims are implausible. Kyiv had nothing to gain from a catastrophic flood. It is possible that the structure, damaged in previous strikes, could have given way. Russian occupying authorities had allowed the water in the reservoir behind to rise to unusually high levels, which would make it a case of criminal neglect.

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