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Kakhovka strategic hub: power plant location and significance

Kakhovka strategic hub: power plant location and significance On the night of June 6, the Russians blew up the Kakhovka power plant dam (Russian media)
Author: RBC Ukraine

On the night of June 6, Russian occupiers blew up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant (HPP) in the Kherson region. Dam over the Dnipro was destroyed, threatening dozens of settlements with flooding. The incident is already called the biggest human-made disaster in the last decade.

What to know about the Kakhovka HPP.

The Kakhovka is the sixth (lower and last) dam in the cascade of hydroelectric power plants on the Dnipro. It regulates river runoff for power generation, irrigation, and water supply for the arid regions of southern Ukraine, as well as navigation on the Dnipro from Kherson to Zaporizhzhia.

The construction of the Kakhovka HPP in the 1950s raised the water level in the Dnipro to 16 m and led to the creation of the Kakhovka reservoir. The power plant’s capacity is 334.8 MW, and it is a separate division of “Ukrhydroenergo” – the largest hydropower generating company in Ukraine.

Russian occupiers seized the Kakhovka HPP in the early days of the full-scale invasion in February 2022.

Where the Kakhovka HPP is located

The plant is located in the south of Ukraine, 5 km from Nova Kakhovka and 30 km from Kherson.

Kakhovka strategic hub: power plant location and significance

Photo: Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant is located near occupied Nova Kakhovka (

Due to its location, the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP will have significant consequences for the local area, as well as for Ukraine’s de-occupation of the left bank of the Kherson region.

What the Kakhovka HPP consists of

The hydroelectric power plant is a complex of facilities. The Kakhovka HPP includes:

  • an engine room
  • a 447-meter-long dam with 28 water-discharge gates
  • a power plant building with an assembly site
  • an earthen dam between the lock and the power plant
  • a single-chamber navigation lock
  • flood and over-flood earthen dam
Photo: Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant ( Lipunov/Russian media)

Why the Kakhovka dam is important

The dam crosses the Dnipro and retains a huge amount of water in the Kakhovka reservoir, the volume of which is estimated at more than 18 cubic kilometers. In case of disaster, this is enough to flood settlements downstream, including Kherson.

The dam is used in the operation of the Kakhovka HPP, so its destruction will further worsen the situation in the energy sector. Moreover, the disaster may lead to the destruction of the irrigation canal system in the south of Ukraine.

The dam is strategically important not only for power generation but also because it connects the right and left banks of the Dnipro. There are both car and railway bridge crossings over the hydro-technical structures.

From the beginning of the Russian invasion, the Ukrainian side has identified the dam as a potential target for the enemy. After the liberation of Kherson in the fall of 2022, the mining of the dam was disclosed. There were also reports of its damage. The Russian side blamed the Ukrainian Armed Forces for alleged rocket attacks on the plant.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned the Russians against sabotage.

“I want to warn everyone in Moscow making decisions. Any attempt to blow up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, flood our territory, and dehydrate the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant will mean a declaration of war against the entire civilized world,” he said in November.

It should be noted that water from the Kakhovka reservoir is necessary for the operation of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, which is located in the occupied city of Energodar.

Currently, uncontrolled water level lowering additionally threatens the Zaporizhzhia NPP, as water is necessary for cooling the turbines and safety systems. As of now, the plant’s cooling pond is filled, and Ukrainian personnel are monitoring all indicators.

As for the Russian side, the dam plays a crucial role in supplying water to the occupied Crimea.

What’s going on at the Kakhovka HPP

As a result of the sabotage in the engine room, the Kakhovka HPP has been destroyed from the inside. “Ukrhydroenergo” states that it cannot be restored.

According to preliminary forecasts, the reservoir drawdown is expected over the next 4 days. The water level in it is rapidly decreasing.

Photo: destroyed dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant (video screenshot)

How the sabotage affects the Ukrainian counteroffensive

Military expert Serhii Grabskyi assures that it won’t. He said that this will cause problems for the Russian occupiers, as the water will flood their fortifications on the left bank.

“This will not affect our offensive. You should understand that taking into account the situation and configuration of the front line, no one was planning any offensive actions with forcing, for example, the Dnipro River. Because it’s a complex operation. The enemy has consciously shot themselves in the foot,” he noted in a comment to RBC-Ukraine.

Ukrainian government’s response

As of now, up to 80 settlements are under threat of flooding. The National Security and Defense Council, chaired by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, is currently being convened.

He also responded to the plant destruction, stating that the Russians will not be able to hinder Ukraine’s plans. The Main Intelligence Directorate calls it an obvious act of terrorism, and the Security Service of Ukraine has initiated a criminal case under the articles “ecocide” and “violation of the laws or customs of war”.

Evacuation has been organized in the Kherson region.