It was not immediately clear who was responsible for blowing up the Nova Kakhovka dam. Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted a drone video showing the damaged dam as water gushed downriver. Zelenskyy blamed "Russian terrorists."
Russian terrorists. The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam only confirms for the whole world that they must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land. Not a single meter should be left to them, because they use every meter for terror. It’s only… pic.twitter.com/ErBog1gRhH— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) June 6, 2023
Meanwhile, Russia denied the attack. Russian-installed head of the Kherson administration, Vladimir Saldo, said Kyiv was behind the attack:
"The destruction led to a large, but not critical amount of water flowing down the Dnieper. It will not prevent our military from defending the left bank," Saldo. He accused Kyiv of the attack to "divert attention" from failed counteroffensives.
The Russian-installed mayor of Nova Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontiev, said the "night attacks" on the dam had "led to the destruction of the valves" and that "water from the Kakhovka reservoir began to uncontrollably be discharged downstream."
Washington Post revealed satellite imagery of the damage.
Zelenskyy warned 80 settlements in the southern Kherson region are in flooding zones.
"It was ordered to carry out evacuation from risk areas and to provide drinking water to all cities and villages that were supplied with water from the Kakhovsky Reservoir.
"We do everything to save people. All services, military, Government, Office are involved," Zelenskyy said on Telegram in comments translated by NBC.
Worst case. pic.twitter.com/92LTLqNsVw— Worldupdates ( Breaking ) (@itswpceo) June 6, 2023
The situation appears critical as Ukraine's state power agency said the damaged dam poses an additional threat to Europe's largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Station.
"Water from the Kakhovka Reservoir is necessary for the station to receive power for turbine capacitors and safety systems of the ZNPP. The station's cooling pond is now full: as of 8:00 a.m., the water level is 16.6 meters, which is sufficient for the station's needs," the agency said.
In commodity markets, Andrey Sizov, managing director at agricultural consultant SovEcon, told Bloomberg that the dam's destruction "looks like a big escalation with dire consequences and huge headline risk." The risk is Russia could reduce the flow of grain exports from Ukraine through the Black Sea in response to the incident.
Wheat futures in Chicago surged as much as 3% on Tuesday. Sizov said, "This could be just the start of the bull run" in wheat prices.