Obviously, the Kremlin’s own troops, taken by surprise, were washed awaytheir trenches were flooded, their living quarters were flooded, and when they ran out into the open to save themselves, Ukrainian troops rained down on them a downpour of death from the opposite bank of the Dnieper.
At first glance it looks like an own goal or two goals from Russia. She controlled the burst dam, many Western countries accuse her of actually blowing it up, and she swallowed her own troops and Ukrainian civilians under her occupation.
But Moscow has a form for sacrificing many lives for the Motherland, just like that, on the same river.
When in 1941 Nazi troops advanced on the Russian army throughout Ukraine, Stalin’s secret police, the NKVD, received orders for terrible ruthlessness.
They were to blow up the dam of the Zaporizhzhya hydroelectric power station, which divided in half the industrial city of the same name, standing 200 km up the river from today’s Novokakhovskaya barricade).
On August 18, Stalin’s henchmen carried out his order. A break in the dam caused a wave of water downstream that killed Soviet soldiers and thousands of civilians. No official history of the atrocity has been recorded, and historians disagree on the death toll, which is between 20,000 and 100,000 souls.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky again accused Moscow of the collapse of the Novokakhovskaya dam and said that Russia should be held “criminally liable” for “ecocide”.
In an interview with national media on Tuesday, Zelensky said: “In our opinion, this is a crime, the Prosecutor General’s Office has already registered it. He will have evidence. There is a modern classification – ecocide,” he said, adding: “I believe that there should be criminal liability. .. International institutions, including the International Criminal Court, must respond.”
Both Kyiv and Moscow accuse each other of being involved in a major dam failure, although it is unclear whether the attack on the dam was deliberate or whether the collapse was the result of structural failure.
Zelenskiy cited a Ukrainian intelligence report last year that claimed the dam had been mined by occupying Russian forces.
“The consequences of the tragedy will be clear in a week. When the water leaves, it will become clear what is left and what will happen next,” he said.
Its officials have repeatedly said that the dam was destroyed by Russia to interfere with Ukraine’s plans for large-scale counteroffensive.
Before a wave of water overflowed the lowlands on its eastern banks, the Dnieper was a formidable natural defense for Russian troops.
When they were expelled from the city of Kherson last summer, they retreated to the east and south, blew up the bridges across it and entrenched themselves on the eastern banks. For several hours, snipers kept their eyes on the targets, while artillerymen bombarded the newly liberated city from the swamps along the river.
Ukraine, of course, kept secret how it plans to launch a counteroffensive to reclaim territories lost to Russia last year.
He conducted reconnaissance attacks or fire reconnaissance along the front line running east from Zaporozhye towards Donetsk. They are clearly meant to test Russia’s defenses and keep her generals guessing.
BahmutThe eastern city, referred to by both sides as a “meat grinder,” erupts from time to time as Ukraine tries to outflank Russian troops that have taken over much of its urban areas.
And Ukraine has been sponsoring a force of “Russian dissidents” (all with Ukrainian military IDs) who have been raiding Russian territory north of Kharkov over the past couple of weeks.
The opening of this new front has even led Russian President Vladimir Putin himself to call on his administration to resist attempts to destabilize his government.
“Today we will resolve these issues in connection with ensuring the security of Russia, in this case, internal political security, given the efforts that our ill-wishers are still making and increasing in order to destabilize the situation inside Russia. We must do everything in our power to prevent this from happening at any cost.” He said recently.
So recently Ukraine has had the initiative.
Unsurprisingly, Russia may have needed to destabilize Kyiv with a massive humanitarian and environmental disaster that Moscow hoped could change the course of history — and change the course of a river.
Any plans that Kiev may have had to storm the river are now much more difficult due to the much wider body of water, more swampy terrain, and uncharted waters.
Russia also lost.
“Their positions were completely destroyed. They are full of water. They still have a lot of wounded and dead, we have information that there are hundreds of them, ”captain of the Ukrainian Armed Forces Andrei Pidlisny told CNN on Tuesday.
A Ukrainian officer commanded by men tasked with observing and raiding Russian troops on the east bank of the river, his teams kept a close eye on the floods as they overwhelmed the Russian troops, driving them out into the open where they could be more easily killed.
“We see them now, they used to hide in buildings, in trenches, and it was difficult for us to understand how many there were and where they were. But now we see them all because they are just running and trying to evacuate. They left not only their positions, they left all their weapons, equipment, ammunition and vehicles, including armored vehicles,” the Ukrainian officer said.
In the photo: the collapse of the Novokakhovskaya dam in Ukraine.
The Ukrainian military insists its counteroffensive included planning for a dam failure.
According to them, they are “equipped with all the necessary watercraft and pontoon bridge crossings to overcome water barriers.”
The Kyiv military added that Russia blew up the dam (as did the Soviets before them, who fought the German army) in a desperate attempt to thwart Ukraine’s much-lauded advance.
But there is one more detail to consider. The Kakhovka dam sits at the head of a fresh water canal system that provides most of the needs of the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula.
“The fact that Russia deliberately destroyed the Kakhovka reservoir, which is of critical importance, in particular, for providing water to Crimea, indicates that the Russian occupiers have already realized that they will have to flee Crimea as well,” Zelensky said.
He would offer the same.
But cutting off the water supply to massive garrisons Crimea — which is also the headquarters of the Russian Black Sea Fleet — is more likely to serve the interests of Ukraine than Russia (at least in the short-term military perspective).
Thus, the destruction of the Novaya Khakovka dam, which complicated Ukraine’s plans but flooded the Russian defenses on the front line, which was hardly the first choice of the Ukrainian offensive, did not benefit either side.
But it has cost Kyiv dearly now and will cost even more in the future, and a weakened Ukraine, angry as it may be, is Russia’s final destination.