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Zelensky threatened “a fair response" for a dam attack months before Kakhovka destruction
Despite the Ukrainian military's history of blowing up water infrastructure on its own territory, western media overlooks all evidence to blame Russia – including Zelensky's threat for retribution.
On September 14, 2022, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky triumphantly toured the city of Izyum, recently re-captured from Russian forces, to take selfies with soldiers and speak to the press.
Hundreds of miles away, a battle raged for control of Zelensky’s birth city of Kryvyi Rih. Explosions struck hydro-mechanical structures of the Karachun dam, which Ukraine attributed to eight Russian cruise missiles. Igor Kolomiyets, of Hydro Energy Engineering, reported “severe damage to the gates, hydro-mechanical equipment, crane and the administrative buildings at the dam, and caused water from the reservoir to flow into Ingulets river.”
Ukrainian authorities brought the water under control, and days later, blew up a dam in Chornohorka, seeking to lower the water levels in the Ingulets rivers.
Commenting on the damage to the dam, Zelensky issued a thinly-veiled threat to carry out a similar attack.
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“The terrorist state continues to wage a war against civilians,” Zelensky warned.”The missile strikes on hydraulic structures to flood Kryvyi Rih. All they can do is to sow panic. Can it break us? Not at all. Will they face a fair response? Definitely yes.”
Zelensky’s threat, overlooked until now, is relevant in light of the partial destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Crimea, which flooded the Dnipro river banks, reportedly displaced thousands and leading to nine deaths.
Immediately after the attack, Zelensky blamed Russia, accusing it of “brutal ecocide”: – a claim parroted by NATO secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez (who might replace Stoltenberg as NATO’s chief), and Estonian Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsahkna. Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko called the attack a “weapon of mass destruction” and said “Russia must be held accountable.”
Despite the claims of its closest allies, the Biden administration refused to confirm those reports. National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said the U.S. is working with Ukraine to gather information, but “we cannot say conclusively what happened at this point.”
While European leaders point the finger at Russia, its troops have suffered as a result of the flood. According to Kherson Oblast Regional Governor Oleksandr Prokudin, most of the flooding is on the eastern bank which is occupied by Russian troops.
Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said Russia flooded its own positions, which "may lead to a large-scale washing away of Russian minefields and their detonation in a chaotic manner."
A Ukrainian officer stationed in the area told CNN that Russian positions were badly damaged and troops killed by the flood. When reporter Sam Kiley asked if he’s sure Ukraine didn’t destroy the dam, the officer responded that they didn’t because “we didn’t have control of it.”
Despite Russian troops being caught off guard and sustaining losses in the flood, former Bush administration official Retired Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt told CNN that it would be “quite logical from the military point of view” for Russia to bomb the dam, saying they are employing a scorched earth strategy. However, this strategy is used when a retreating military destroys anything that could be useful to an advancing military, which is not the case with the Crimean flood.
CNN national correspondent Miguel Marqeuz stammered out a claim that “Certainly the Russians probably stand to gain more,” ignoring the losses Russian troops suffered from the flooding.
While western pundits twist themselves into knots to blame Russia for the dam’s destruction, all available evidence suggests Ukrainian culpability.
The New York Times reported in April, 2022 that Ukraine intentionally flooded the village of Demydiv, “creating a quagmire that thwarted a Russian tank assault on Kyiv and bought the army precious time to prepare defenses.”
This was a common occurrence.
“Since the war’s early days, Ukraine has been swift and effective in wreaking havoc on its own territory, often by destroying infrastructure, as a way to foil a Russian army with superior numbers and weaponry,” the article states.
Evidently, Russia had intelligence that Ukraine planned to destroy the Kakhovka dam. On October 21, 2022 Russia warned the United Nations Security Council that Ukraine planned to carry out the bombing, saying that the Kiev regime was “considering launching sea mines downstream the Dnieper river or a missile strike,” and that “we are also registering air strikes targeting the locks of the electric power station with the intention to raise the river level.”
Two months later, the Washington Post reported that Ukrainian forces “conducted a test strike” on the Nova Kakhovka dam with a U.S.-supplied HIMARS missile launcher “to see if the Dnieper’s water could be raised enough to stymie Russian crossings but not flood nearby villages,” confirming Russia’s claim that Ukraine was targeting the dam.
While Ukraine has certainly destroyed its own water infrastructure throughout the past 16 months of war, including attacks on the Kakhovka dam, Western media outlets – wedded to the U.S. and Ukrainian governments – automatically portray Russia as culpable, no matter how hollow and contradictory their narratives. In doing so, blatant threats like Zelensky’s are buried, ignored and left for independent media to uncover.