While thousands of overprivileged upper-middle class citizens across the world’s most advanced economies excitedly acclaimed the dawn of the “spatial computing” era courtesy of Apple’s $3,500 mixed-reality goggles, 16,000 Ukrainians anxiously pondered the prospect of being washed away by the Dnipro River after someone destroyed the second-largest of the waterway’s network of dams.
The Kakhovka dam and an associated hydroelectric power plant were under Russian control when an apparent explosion split the barrier in half on Tuesday, unleashing a Great Salt Lake-sized body of water, endangering thousands of people and raising fresh concerns about the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, a perpetual source of consternation for international observers during the conflict.
For months, Ukraine and Russia accused each other of scheming to destroy the structure. “We have information that Russian terrorists mined the dam,” Volodymyr Zelensky warned in October, calling for an international observation mission at the power plant. Zelensky said Moscow planned to blame Ukraine for any incident and the ensuing disaster downriver. At the time, a Kremlin puppet official in Kherson called Zelensky a “liar” and alluded to potential “sabotage” by Kyiv. On Tuesday, Russia blamed shelling for the dam’s demise.
The scope of the impending disaster was initially unclear. Potentially, the breach could create overlapping humanitarian and ecological crises, and may threaten the circulation of water in cooling pools for spent fuel at Zaporizhzhia. Zelensky advisor Mykhailo Podolyak lamented what he suggested will be “colossal damage” to the environment, while Dmytro Kuleba called Putin’s Russia “the greatest terrorist of the 21st century.”
“As a result of detonation of the engine room from the inside, the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power plant was completely destroyed,” Ukrhydroenergo, a Ukrainian hydro power company, said, in a statement. “The station cannot be restored.”
“IMPORTANT: The Russians blew up the Kakhovskaya HPP dam,” a release carried by Ukraine’s ministry of internal affairs read. “The water level is rising and everyone who is in the danger zone must turn off all electrical appliances, take documents and essentials [and] take care of loved ones and pets.”
The incident occurred very close to the frontlines. The timing is obviously notable: Ukraine’s counteroffensive is underway. Russia’s invading army commandeered both the dam and the power plant last year. An adjacent bridge reportedly suffered fresh damage in the lead up to Tuesday’s events, which prompted Zelensky to reiterate that he will not accept any peace accord that entails ceding territory to Putin. “Not a single meter should be left to them,” he said, on social media.
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
— ????????? ?????????? (@ZelenskyyUa) June 6, 2023
Meanwhile, the Kremlin’s global network of blogs and pro-Putin “journalists” were on the job, promoting various narratives, including the notion that the Ukrainian military might’ve destroyed the dam in an effort to engineer lower water levels upstream, making it easier for Zelensky’s army to cross and forcing Russia to divert resources or risk losing occupied territory on the other side of the river.
“Remember: The enemy is trying to spread misinformation, to remove responsibility for another crime,” the same internal affairs notice quoted above read. Podolyak said Putin is trying to “create insurmountable obstacles” for the Ukrainian military by flooding the region.
Zelensky held an emergency meeting with top security personnel, while local Ukrainian officials rushed to evacuate at-risk residents in dozens of imperiled settlements. The Kakhovka reservoir is a critical source of drinking water and irrigation for agriculture. Ukrhydroenergo warned of an “uncontrolled decrease in the reservoir level,” and said its experts were “working on clarifying the scale of destruction, speed and volume of water.”
Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, blamed Putin. Tuesday’s destruction, he declared, “clearly qualifies as a war crime.”
Add it to the arrest warrant, I suppose. And also to the ever expanding list of unsolved mysteries associated with the conflict, which might one day be remembered by the scattered survivors of World War III as the beginning of the end.
Dear Lord, please just let us make it to January so I can experience the apocalypse in Apple Vision.