Russian Invasion of Ukraine: Global Implications

Places: Kakhovka Dam in Ukraine


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Kakhovka Dam

Mains level: NA


Central Idea

  • Breach of the Dnipro River Dam: A Soviet-era Kakhovka Dam on the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine was breached, resulting in floodwaters spreading across the war zone.
  • Conflicting Accounts: Ukraine accused Russia of destroying the dam, while Russian officials provided differing explanations, suggesting Ukrainian shelling or prior damage as potential causes.

The Kakhovka Dam

  • Construction and Purpose: The Kakhovka Dam was built in 1956 as part of the Khakhovka hydroelectric power plant, with a height of 30 meters (98 feet) and a length of 3.2 kilometres (2 miles).
  • Water Supply: The dam’s reservoir supplies water to the Crimean peninsula, claimed by Russia since 2014, and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is also under Russian control.
  • Reservoir Capacity: The reservoir holds approximately 18 cubic km of water, comparable in volume to the Great Salt Lake in Utah, USA.

Accounts of the Dam Breach

  • Ukrainian Accusations: Ukraine attributed responsibility to Russia, stating that the dam was destroyed by “Russian terrorists” and accusing Russian occupying forces of the act.
  • Russian Claims: Russian-installed officials offered conflicting accounts, with some blaming Ukraine for shelling the dam, while others asserted that the dam collapsed due to pre-existing damage and water pressure.

Human Impact and Evacuations

  • Potential Flooding: The surge in water levels poses a significant risk, potentially impacting thousands of people in the affected areas.
  • Evacuations: Evacuation efforts commenced on both sides of the front line to ensure the safety of civilians.
  • Population at Risk: Russian-installed officials indicated that 22,000 individuals across 14 settlements in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region were at risk of flooding, while the Ukrainian Prime Minister noted that up to 80 settlements were in danger.

Impact on Crimea

  • Water Supply Concerns: The rupture of the dam raises concerns about water levels in the North Crimea Canal, which supplies fresh water to the Crimea peninsula from the Dnipro River.
  • Dependence on Canal: Crimea depends on the canal for fresh water, and its previous blockage by Ukraine after the 2014 annexation caused water shortages in the region.
  • Potential Consequences: Decreased water levels in the canal could have significant implications for water supply in Crimea.

Other hotspots under threat: Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant

  • Cooling Water Source: The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest, relies on the reservoir as a source of cooling water.
  • Russian Control: The plant is located on the southern side of the conflict zone, which is currently under Russian control.
  • Nuclear Safety Assurance: The International Atomic Energy Agency stated that there was no immediate nuclear safety risk at the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, and Russia’s state nuclear energy company affirmed that there was no threat to the plant.

Try this question from CS Prelims 2023

Consider the following pairs:

Regions often mentioned in news: Reason for being in news

  1. North Kivu and Ituri: War between Armenia and Azerbaijan
  2. Nagorno-Karabakh: Insurgency in Mozambique
  3. Kherson and Zaporizhzhia: Dispute between Israel and Lebanon

How many of the above pairs are correctly matched?

(a) Only one

(b) Only two

(c) All three

(d) None

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