Damage to the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam in the early hours of June 6 caused massive flooding of the Dnipro River delta, river wetlands, estuaries, and shoreline settlements in Kherson Oblast. Russian and Ukrainian sources began reporting loud noises resembling explosions emanating from the KHPP (across the Dnipro River in the Nova Kakhovka area about 55km northeast of Kherson City) between 0200 and 0230 local time on June 6, followed by reports of rushing water and an overall increase in the water level of the Dnipro. Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast Administration announced the evacuation of several raions (districts) of the west (right) bank of Kherson Oblast as of 0730 local time and reported that the Tyahinka, Odradokamianka, Beryslav, Ivanivka, Mykilske, Tokarivka, Ponyativka, Bilozerka, and Ostriv areas had been partially or completely flooded. Russian Kherson Oblast occupation officials announced the evacuation of the Nova Kakhovka, Hola Prystan, and Oleshky raions. Ukrainian officials noted that over 80 settlements are within the flood zone in Kherson Oblast. General Director of Ukraine’s hydroelectric power plant regulator Ukrhydroenergo Ihor Syrota said that water is draining from the Kakhovka Reservoir at a rate of 15-20cm an hour, which Syrota stated means that the reservoir will be entirely dry in the next four days. A researcher at the Ukrainian Department of Water Bioresources at the Kherson Oblast Agrarian and Economic University, Yevhen Korzhov, noted that the rate of water discharge from the dam may lead to flooding as far downstream as Kizomys, about 120km southwest from the KHPP. A Russian milblogger claimed that the water level in Nova Kakhovka, immediately adjacent to the KHPP, reached as high as 11m. Various Russian sources additionally highlighted footage showing that several east (left) bank settlements, including Oleshky, Korsunka, and Dnipryany, are entirely or nearly entirely underwater.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Ukrainian officials stated that the drop in the water level at the Kakhovka Reservoir should not affect the safety of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP).IAEA Director Rafael Grossi reported that the drop in the water level at the Kakhovka Reservoir poses “no immediate risk to the safety of the plant” and that IAEA personnel at the ZNPP are closely monitoring the situation. Grossi stated that the ZNPP is pumping water into its cooling channels and related systems, and that the large cooling pond next to the ZNPP will be ”sufficient to provide water for cooling for some months.” Ukrainian nuclear energy operator Energoatom’s President Petro Kotin stated that the fall in the water level at the Kakhovka Reservoir does not directly impact the water level in the ZNPP cooling pond and noted that the ZNPP pool basins are still at the same water level. Ukrainian Chief Inspector for Nuclear and Radiation Safety Oleh Korikov stated that the decrease in water level at the Kakhovka Reservoir will not affect the condition of the ZNPP provided that ZNPP personnel implement established safety measures.
Ukrainian officials stated that Russian forces intentionally destroyed the KHPP dam and suggested that the Russian military did not prepare for subsequent flooding. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Ukrainian intelligence indicates that Russian forces conducted an intentional premediated explosion at the dam but did so in a “chaotic” manner that allowed Russian military equipment to be flooded downstream. Zelensky added that the only way to destroy the dam is through mining and emphasized that Russian forces have now occupied the dam for over a year. The Ukrainian Main Military Intelligence Directorate (GUR) stated that Russian forces mined the dam shortly after its capture early in the full-scale invasion of Ukraine and later planted additional mines on the locks and supports of the dam in April 2022.Ukhrhydroenergo stated that Russian forces destroyed the KHPP dam by detonating an explosive within the KHPP engine room. The Ukrainian Resistance Center amplified reporting from the Crimean-based Ukrainian Atesh partisan movement alleging that the Russian 1st Battalion of the 205th Motorized Rifle Brigade (49thCombined Arms Army, Southern Military District) was responsible for the detonation at the KHPP dam. Other Ukrainian officials accused Russia of intentionally destroying the dam out of concerns about potential Ukrainian advances and counterattacks. Ukrainian Southern Operational Command Spokesperson Natalia Humenyuk stated that Russian forces are having to evacuate their forces on the east (left) bank of the Dnipro River because subsequent flooding has disproportionately impacted the Russian-occupied bank of the river. Footage published on June 6 purports to show Russian forces withdrawing from flooded positions, suggesting that these forces were not prepared for the flooding that resulted from the destruction of the KHPP dam.
- Damage to the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant (KHPP) dam in the early hours of June 6 caused massive flooding of the Dnipro River delta, river wetlands, estuaries, and shoreline settlements in Kherson Oblast.
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Ukrainian officials stated that the drop in the water level at the Kakhovka Reservoir should not affect the safety of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP).
- Ukrainian officials stated that Russian forces intentionally destroyed the KHPP dam and suggested that the Russian military did not prepare for subsequent flooding.
- Russian officials accused Ukrainian forces of destroying the KHPP dam and used the allegations to bolster ongoing efforts to portray Ukrainian assaults elsewhere in Ukraine as immediate failures.
- ISW has not yet observed clear evidence of what transpired at the KHPP on June 6 and is therefore unable to offer an independent assessment of responsibility at the time of this publication.
- Russian forces conducted another large-scale missile strike across Ukraine on the night of June 5-6.
- Russian sources claimed that the pro-Ukrainian all-Russian Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and the Freedom of Russian Legion (LSR) are gone from a border settlement in Belgorod Oblast as of June 6.
- Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin continued to directly threaten the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) and the Russian military command if they do not fulfill his demands for a larger independent army and political influence in Russia.
- Ukrainian officials offered assurances that the damage to the dam and subsequent flooding will not impede Ukrainian counteroffensive preparations.
- Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks along the Svatove-Kreminna line.
- Russian sources claimed that Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks north and southwest of Bakhmut, and Russian forces continued limited offensive operations along the Avdiivka-Donetsk line.
- Ukrainian forces continued ground attacks in southwestern Donetsk and in eastern Zaporizhia oblasts.
- Wagner Group financier Yevgeny Prigozhin claimed that the Russian 72nd Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade is part of the irregular 6th Division.
- Russian officials and occupation authorities continue efforts to use infrastructure projects to integrate occupied territories into Russia.