Kakhovska HPP is blown up. What will it change for the Ukrainian offensive and for the Russian troops?


Full version of the interview with Oleksiy Melnyk on Radio NV

What military effect may the disaster caused by blowing up the Kakhovska HPP have?

Russia claims that it was done by the Ukrainian military. They explain this, first of all, by the military rationale of such an act. We are used to Russians lying. But alas, I looked through some of the world media today, and they are seriously discussing this version as well. Therefore, what seems obvious to us — that this is Russia's job — is not so obvious to everyone, including our Western partners. Hence, the Ukrainian authorities now face a very serious task: to prevent these Russian narratives from taking the upper hand in world discussions.

Going back to whether it makes any military sense to the Russians themselves: the Russians are so afraid of the Ukrainian next step that they ventured to do it — this may be one of the reasons. But I tend to agree with Natalia Humeniuk. I will add a saying from the play by the Russian playwright Aleksandr Ostrovsky "Portionless Daughter": "Let nobody possess you!". Most likely, it is a desire to harm as much as possible.

Even last autumn, there was much talk about the possibility of mining the Kakhovskaya HPP. At critical moments the risk of such actions on the part of Russia was assessed as quite high. But for Ukraine, it is basically unnecessary. It's like setting your house on fire to drive out a thief. It is completely illogical. Perhaps it would make sense if Moscow were downstream. But if we are talking about the current danger in the information space, then the Russians are really using this argument, saying that the Ukrainians thereby wanted to block the possibility of supplying water to Crimea.

An offensive from a bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnieper was considered the least likely

I see different ways to use this situation. Putin presented the commissioning of the North Crimean Canal as one of his greatest victories. And now, in fact, they give it up. They themselves destroy such an opportunity. If we take into account their other actions, for example, relocation of logistics centres from Sevastopol, there is a feeling that Russia is not only seriously considering its inability to keep the eastern part of Kherson region but also probably thinks that it is time to prepare for the surrender of Crimea.

How can this disaster affect the offensive of the AFU? Most experts considered the scenario of crossing the Dnieper and attacking from the bridgehead on the left bank of the Dnieper as the least likely. But this is in the case of, so to say, a realistic assessment of opportunities and risks. We don’t know if the AFU have the technical capabilities to organize such crossing, but understand that Russia, although not quite successfully using its air force, maintains superiority in the air. Therefore, the crossing scenario was very risky. So if we assume that this scenario is the least likely, then the catastrophe with the explosion of the Kakhovska HPP will not affect it.

The Russians are once again doing themselves a disservice because the water mainly went to the left bank. So, their artillery and mortar positions, from which Kherson was shelled, are now moving away from the city. 

Why, as Natalia Humeniuk said, did the occupiers lose their nerve? For several days now, there have been intense allegations in the Russian media that Ukraine has already launched a large-scale offensive. And there are big contradictions between what officials report and what their so-called military bloggers write. One example to illustrate what I mean: it was reported that hundreds of tanks, dozens of battalions of the Armed Forces of Ukraine went on the offensive. And then Konashenkov comes out and cheerfully reports that this offensive has been stopped, lists how many Leopard tanks have been destroyed, how many men killed. That is, in this way, the Russian public is shown such a picture that it seems that the Ukrainians have already gone on the offensive, but we, the Russians, are successfully stopping them. And it is obvious that the event at the Kakhovska HPP is also of great value to them, in order to say in the information space, look, we did it and secured a land corridor. That is, one of the purposes of blowing up the Kakhovska HPP may be precisely propagandistic — for internal consumption.



Oleksiy Melnyk

Co-Director, Foreign Relations and International Security Programmes, Coordinator of International Projects

Born in 1962 in Khmelnytsty Rgn


Royal College of Defence Studies, London, UK (2007)

Air Field Operations Officer School, Biloxy, MS, US (2001)

Squadron Officer School, Montgomery, AL, US (1994)

Defence Language Institute, San Antonio, TX, US (1994)

Chernihiv Higher Military Air Force Academy, Ukraine (1984)


1980 – 2001 — Air Force Active Service (Cadet, Instructor Pilot, Flight Commander, Squadron Commander, Deputy Air Force Base Commander, Participant of two UN peacekeeping operations, Lt.Colonel (Ret)

2001 – 2004 — Razumkov Centre

2004 – 2005 — State Company Ukroboronservice

2005 – 2008 — Ministry of Defence of Ukraine, Head Organisational and Analytical Division — First Assistant to Minister of Defence

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