Russian propaganda media and mouthpieces usually turned to their favoured manipulation tactics of denial and aggressor/victim role reversal after the Kakhovka dam destruction by an explosion in Ukraine.
The Russian and pro-Russian voices have been spreading disinformation about the Kakhovka HPP worldwide and used popular agents of influence in the West.
Top-3 fakes on Russian media about Kakhovka dam destruction
The fact is that Ukraine did not destroy its hydroelectric plant, provoking a man-made disaster on its territory. Kakhovka HPP has been under Russian occupation since 2022.
The Russian invading army mined the plant’s units in the fall of 2022. On June 6, simultaneously with a massive missile attack on Ukrainian cities, Russians carried out a remote detonation of the HPP.
Horrifying images displaying the collapse of the Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River in the Russian-occupied territories in the Kherson region of Ukraine were disseminated across media globally. The destruction of the dam unleashed the 18 billion cubic meters of water held by the enormous Kakhovka Reservoir to the south, causing a humanitarian catastrophe and an ecological disaster.
The Russian invaders blew up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant they had seized, according to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who said that they carried out an internal explosion of the plant’s structures at 02:50 am. Around 80 settlements are in the flood zone, with tens of thousands of people at risk.
Despite the huge amount of photo and video materials confirming the Ukrainian government’s information about the Russian invaders blowing up the Kakhovka HPP, at first, the Russian media claimed that “everything in Nova Kakhovka is “calm and quiet” and the information about the plant blown up is “nonsense”.
Subsequently, when it became impossible to hide the fact of the disaster, the pro-Kremlin media spread a huge number of theories about the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP, from the narrative “the dam destroyed itself” to the theses about “Ukrainian missiles bombing Kakhovka HPP”.
Russian Fake 1: “Ukraine destroyed Kakhovka HPP. The attack by Ukrainian troops on the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant was carried out from multiple rocket launchers.
To no surprise, the Kremlin was quick to accuse Ukraine of the dam’s destruction, despite its location in the Russian-occupied territories. Russian officials almost immediately denounced it as Ukrainian sabotage before back-tracking hours later, calling for an ‘international investigation’.
The Kremlin tactic of mixing denials and accusations was quickly triggered, including by the known Kremlin apologist Tucker Carlson, who claimed that ‘Any fair person would conclude that the Ukrainians probably blew it up’ on his new Twitter show.
Fact: Ukraine did not destroy its hydroelectric power plant, endangering the lives of hundreds of thousands of peaceful Ukrainians and provoking a man-made disaster on the territory of the Ukrainian state. The Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant has been under Russian occupation since 2022 – the Russian army has access to the strategic facility and has complete control over what happens at the plant.
The operational command South of the Ukrainian Armed Forces was the first to confirm the information about the bombing of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant by the Russians. At the same time, the Russian media tried to cover it up by reporting “misinformation on the part of the Ukrainian Armed Forces”.
While the Ukrainian government declared a state of emergency and started an emergency evacuation of the population from the flooded area, the Russian occupants continued to deny that the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant had been blown up.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stressed that the Kakhovka HPP had been blown up from inside the plant. Due to the Russian occupation, Ukraine had not had any access to the Kakhovska HPP for a long time.
National Security and Defence Council Secretary Oleksiy Danilov said that Ukraine already has data on the perpetrators of the Kakhovka bombing. According to Danilov, servicemen of the 205th Motorized Rifle Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, who controlled the facility, were responsible for the disaster on Ukrainian territory.
Back on October 20 2022, President Zelensky reported that “Russian terrorists have mined the dam and units of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant” and called on the international community to send observers to the Russian-occupied site and ensure that the units of the hydroelectric power plant are immediately and professionally demined. The Ukrainian warnings were not responded to.
NATO, the Council of Europe, the European Council, the UK, the heads of the European Union and many others – the leaders of the democratic world are speaking out en masse in support of Ukraine, condemning Russian terrorist actions. All appeals from Ukrainian allies emphasize: the only reason for the disaster at the Kakhovka HPP is Russia’s bloody and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine.
Russian Fake 2: “The Kakhovka HPP collapsed not because of an explosion but because of earlier damage”.
Fact: an ordinary water passage could not have caused the collapse of the Kakhovka reservoir dam. Its structure was built with the calculation of all possible natural risks. Over the years, the dam has repeatedly withstood the pressure of the water mass at high speeds.
In a comment to StopFake, hydrologist Konstantin Danko, PhD in Geography, explains that if not added any physical impact on the dam itself through attacks and strikes, not destroyed physically by force, it could not collapse for natural reasons. It could only have been caused by armed attacks by the Russian occupiers – which happened in the early hours of June 6.
Even the damaged Kakhovka HPP, which the Russians partially damaged while retreating from the right bank of Dnipro to the left bank in autumn 2022, the HPP withstood the peak of the spring flood passage and did not collapse, coping with the maximum water pressure. This proves the fakeness of the Russian narrative “The dam collapsed on its own”.
Russian Fake 3: “There is no threat of stopping water supply through the North-Crimean canal…There is no threat to Crimea”.
Fact: As a result of the destruction of the Kakhovka dam by the Russian invaders, there was a threat of disruption of the conditions of functioning of several energy, industrial, municipal, agricultural and other complexes, whose production and technological support depended on the operation mode of the Kakhovka reservoir.
This applied to the southern regions of Ukraine – including temporarily occupied Crimea. Soon after the Russians blow up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, all the farms operating on the Dnipro waters will become an emergency. This disaster will undoubtedly affect the Crimean peninsula, negatively affecting its nature and socio-economic potential.
“Such conditions will persist until the water level in the Dnipro River at the former Kakhovka reservoir site drops below the dead volume level of the reservoir (12.7 m). After that, the operating conditions of any economic complexes supplied with water from Dnipro should be considered emergency, i.e. unable to ensure proper production processes. This applies to industrial plants, utilities, irrigation systems, etc. The failure of the Kakhovka dam will also have an extremely negative impact on the operating conditions of the Zaporizhzhia NPP, the consequences of which are still difficult to assess. At the same time, after water levels drop at the Kakhovka HPP destruction site, the Pivnichno-Krymskiy channel, which provided the peninsula with Dnipro water from the Kakhovka reservoir, will also stop operating,” summarized Konstantin Danko.
The EU condemned this unprecedented attack on civilian infrastructure in the strongest terms. Still, the pro-Kremlin information manipulation and disinformation actors impacted many minds in Europe.