In the first hours of Putin’s invasion, Russia occupied the Kakhovka Dam

In Russia’s war against Ukraine, the Kakhovka Dam, which was partially destroyed on Tuesday, was of strategic importance from the start. In the first hours of the Russian attack on February 24, 2022, Russian troops occupied the plant and the associated hydroelectric power station in the Cherson region in southern Ukraine.

Kachowka Dam has had important strategic importance since the beginning of the war

The dam was built on the Dnipro River in 1956 when Ukraine was still part of the Soviet Union. It is part concrete, part earth and, at 3273 meters long, is one of the largest of its kind in Ukraine. From there the water flows into the North Crimean Canal, which begins in the south of Ukraine and crosses the entire peninsula. However, after Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, Kiev turned off the faucet, leading to major problems with the peninsula’s water supply.

According to their own statements, a few weeks after the Russian invasion, the Russian occupiers opened the inflow again, so that 1.7 million cubic meters of water reached the Crimea every day. Ukraine’s declared goal is still to reconquer Crimea.

The power plant at the dam also continued to produce electricity, which was fed into the Ukrainian grid and also supplied the Russian-occupied areas. According to the website of the Ukrainian operator Ukrgydroenergo, the capacity of the hydroelectric power station is 334.8 megawatts.

Reservoir holds 18 billion cubic meters of water

The reservoir also supplies cooling water to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which is around 150 kilometers from the dam. The reservoir, 240 kilometers long and up to 23 kilometers wide, can hold 18 billion cubic meters of water – an enormous volume of water that has now flooded several villages. In terms of area, the reservoir is four times larger than Lake Constance.

Since the beginning of the war, Moscow and Kiev have repeatedly accused each other of wanting to destroy the dam. It had already been damaged in an attack in November.

Jean Harris

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