One recalls that post-Maidan Ukraine (in contravention of all international and humanitarian law) had blocked (April 2014) the supply of fresh water to the Crimean peninsula. This was done in order to punish the Crimean residents for rejoining Russia. (And entice them to come home to Mama Ukraine.) To accomplish this misanthropic feat, the Ukrainians dammed the Severo-Krymsky Canal, an engineering marvel built in Soviet times, which feeds water, in a regulated fashion, from the Dnieper River to Kherson and Crimea. As one can see on the map, the Canal begins at the Novaya Kakhovka Dam and Reservoir, also built in Soviet times, as part of this vast and important waterway project.
Fresh water from the Dniepr flows through the sluices of the dam, winds along the canal, flowing through many towns and villages of Kherson and Crimea; and all the way to Kerch, at the very tip of the Crimean peninsula. Providing drinking water and farm irrigation for residents of Kherson and Crimea.
Just two days after the start of the Special Military Operation, Russian soldiers and engineers removed Ukrainian blocks from the Canal, releasing the precious water to Crimea. The promptness of their action was an indicator that this de-blocking of the water supply was an important factor in the decision to go to war.
Unfortunately, in the current situation, the water supply is once again under threat. This time due to Ukrainian rocket attacks against the Kakhovka Reservoir. I have this rather alarming piece by reporter Olga Ivanova. Here is a full translation:
The possibility of providing water to Crimea along the Severo-Krymsky Canal will vanish, if the Kakhovka Dam and Hydroelectric Station is blown up, this thought was declared by Novaya Kakhovka Administrative Head Vladimir Leontiev on an episode of Solovyov Live[tv show].
He stressed that, should the dam be blown up, then it would be many years before it could be repaired. In which case, the Canal would dry up and have no water.
The Canal has a huge significance for Crimea’s water supply, and also for replenishing the artesian wells that lurk beneath the steppe land of the peninsula. These wells are widely used in the central irrigation systems of the cities and villages of the region.
One recalls, that the Ukrainian Armed Forces, on Thursday [yesterday] once again launched rockets against the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station. [yalensis: usually Russian press would follow a sentence like this with, “But all the rockets were shot down by anti-air”, but they don’t here, which is worrying.]
Earlier, Vladimir Leontiev had also warned that the Ukrainians were likely to attack the dam and hydroelectric station with naval mines.
Simulating Noah’s Flood
To recap the threat: IF the Ukrainians are able to blow up the Kakhovka Dam/Reservoir, then they will have achieved two major military objectives (in addition to just making themselves feel good in a spiteful kind of way): 1) They will once again deprive Crimea of fresh water; and 2) They will flood Kherson Oblast, intending to drive the Russian garrison back to the Left Bank of the much-widened river.
See, the ensuing rush of water would make the river very wide at that part. Not only would the Russian pontoon bridge be swept away (that’s the bridge that supplies the Russian garrison on the Right Bank, and the Russians cleverly built it underneath the remnants of the Antonov Bridge, which the Ukrainians already destroyed), but the entire region would be flooded, at least for a few days: homes, farms, villages, even the city of Kherson itself. By the time the water settled down and people tried to return to their homes, they would find everything rather squishy. A computer simulation shows what the ensuing flood might look like:
I took this simulation and image from Dima’s (Military Summary and Analysis) podcast from yesterday, which I recommend people to watch, Dima explains the situation, and what would happen, in the event.
This, by the way, is the exact possibility that General Surovikin has been warning about. Best option, obviously, is to somehow find a way to prevent the Ukrainians from doing this in the first place; rather than waiting for them to do it, and then having to make “difficult decisions” !