A toxic flood from the Nova Kakhovka dam has negatively affected the Russian-controlled east bank in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine, according to Newsweek. The dam, spanning the Dneiper River, separates the Russian side and the Ukrainian west bank. The Russian-occupied territory was particularly affected as the flood caused toxic water to spill over into agricultural fields, nature preserves, and settlements.
The breach of the dam is still unknown but two ongoing speculatory answers are that either the dam was experiencing structural issues or Russia deliberately sabotaged it. If the latter is true, then the incentive for doing so is unclear. George Barros of the Institute for the Study of War reported that the flooding disrupted Russia’s military preparations and positions, including fortifications and landmine fields. But despite the apparent improbability that Russia would sabotage the dam, some are speculating that this was done to prolong a Ukrainian attack, which has not been disclosed.
The dam was reportedly built in 1955 and has undergone stress during the year of the war. In October 2022, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky alleged that Russia was responsible for mining the dam to slow them down. But Ukraine regained control of the right side of the Kherson region a month later.
But the flooding has worked against Russian interests as their assault on the Ukrainian side appears to be ineffectual, if not completely improbable. Ukrainian forces may initiate an assault on Russians by crossing the bank and firing at a point that would not have been anticipated. Barros notes that this can take place if the flooding settles down so that Ukrainians can cross the river. But Barros warns that Ukraine may also be ineffectual in the flooding continues, which will give Russians the time to allocate resources where needed.
The news comes as the Kremlin reportedly prepares for further losses.