Who Bombed the Kakhovka Dam?

Nations are once again pointing fingers in the wake of an attack on a crucial resource in the war in Ukraine.

By Hudson Crozier

What happened: The Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, which is attached to a dam in Russia-controlled southern Ukraine, was bombed yesterday, causing mass flooding that has driven thousands of civilians from their homes and submerged entire towns. Ukraine, NATO, and the U.S. point to Russia as the likely culprit, while Russia blames Ukraine.

The long-term consequences: The advancing floodwaters pose a danger to around 40,000 people living in both Russia-controlled and Ukraine-controlled areas. It also threatens the stability of Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, the Zaporizhzhia, which Russia seized from Ukraine last year.

What we know: Both Russia and Ukraine have accused each other of planning to attack the dam, condemning the idea as unthinkably extreme. In December, however, Ukraine admitted to performing a test strike on the dam with U.S.-made rockets. It’s also true that, from a war standpoint, Russia appears to be hurt the most by yesterday’s attack due to the potential damage to the Zaporizhzhia plant.

To add to that, leaked documents show that the Biden administration was aware of a plan by the Ukrainian military to sabotage the Nord Stream oil pipelines in order to hurt Russia, The Washington Post reported yesterday. Though it’s still unclear who carried out the bombing last year, the new report suggests a willingness by the U.S. to allow Ukraine to destroy crucial Russian resources.

The war has fundamentally changed: The drone strikes that hit Moscow's affluent districts last week, which Russia and the U.S. attribute to Ukraine, marked a stark shift in the Russia-Ukraine War and were the first strikes against Russian civilians in the capital since the war's outset. Ukraine also recently admitted, after a long period of denial, that its military intelligence was indeed responsible for a sequence of attempted assassinations in Russia. Read more from our recent Upward+ coverage.