A spectacular own goal. How the Russians sabotaged themselves by blowing up Ukraine’s huge dam near Kherson.

7 June 2023 By Paul Martin

World Exclusive.  By Paul Martin. 

It could literally turn the tide of the Russian Ukraine war.

In a huge military blunder, Russian saboteurs blasted far too many of the 28 sluice gates that were holding back a huge expanse of water in the massive Kakhovka dam, senior military-related sources have told Correspondent.World.

“The explosives were laid as long ago as December 2022 but were not detonated till yesterday,” the source told Correspondent.World.  “The intention was to blast just a small opening in the dam that could be regulated, but would have the effect of flooding a series of marshy islands in the river that had recently been seized by Ukrainian forces.   

“Our forces were already there, concealed in the thick bulrushes covering much of the islands, and we had acquired literally hundreds of small fast speedboats from which we were planning to launch our long-awaited invasion,” said the sources.  

But there was what one source called “a typical Russian screw-up” and the explosive mines they detonated set off a chain reaction of other mines.  Instead of one or two sluice gates being partially damaged, they blasted out eleven.

Social media captures the flow of water through the destroyed dam wall.

“The Russians, realising the Ukrainian forces’ invasion was imminent, succeeded in compelling our special forces troops to retreat back to the right bank (south-east bank) of the Dnieper River, ” one source told Correspondent.World.  The source said: “In that sense and that sense alone, it benefited the Russians. Now if we try to cross the whole expanse of the wide river from bank to bank in one go, we would be sitting ducks from their artillery and bombing.

“However the flooding has achieved what we could only dream of — removing carefully prepared artillery and other Russian defences.”

The 98-foot-high dam and  its hydroelectric power station are in Russian-controlled territory along the Dniepro River about 44 miles east of the city of Kherson.

A tellingly significant piece of evidence indicating that the Russians engineered the flood is the sudden rise in the pre-flood water level.  Its highest point during the war had been 16.5 metres, but recently it plummeted, then suddenly (just before the explosions) was artificially pushed up to 17.5 metres by closing the sluice gates that allow a normal flow of water down-river. So when the intended explosion occurred it would release water with extra force. 

A graph from the French monitoring portal Theia-land and created by engineers who used to run the hydro-electric plant shows the water-levels.  Melting snow and rainfall had some effect , the engineers say, but it was mainly deliberate action by the Russians that made the water-levels rise by around four metres since its low at the start of 2023. 

However they have scored “a huge own goal”, a source told Correspondent.World.   Many of the artillery defences the Russians set up after they retreated across the river late last year from around Kherson City are now accidentally flooded — by their own negligence.  “We have reports of members of a whole battalion, the 205th, who could not get away in time and have climbed up trees and buildings, waiting for rescue,” the source told Correspondent.World.

They have accidentally ensured, too, that much of the Crimea, which Russia triumphantly occupied in 2014, will be deprived of drinking water.  The dam disaster has accidentally made it much more difficult to send water to cool the remaining functioning part of the largest nuclear reactor in Europe.  Situated not far from another Ukrainian-held city, Zaporizhzhia, Russian forces occupied the reactor site last year. Its power provides electricity to Ukrainian-held and Russian-held territory alike.

Worse still for Putin, if these claims are verified by the United Nations and by NATO military observers, Russia will be held responsible for a very serious international war crime.   Ukraine has already called for an emergency meeting of the Security Council of of the UN nuclear agency.  Putin is likely to be personally charged with a major war crime and (unlike the previous charges against him of kidnapping Ukrainian children) this may stop China and India from remaining officially neutral, analysts say.  

The effects of the dam disaster could deal a serious blow to Russia’s war effort, observers predicted.