Fears Putin could unleash 'water apocalypse' on liberated Kherson after chunks of key dam 'deliberately destroyed'

12 November 2022, 12:06

Fears have grown about the damage to a key dam near Kherson
Fears have grown about the damage to a key dam near Kherson. Picture: Getty/Maxar/Google

By Will Taylor

Fears about whether retreating Russian forces have damaged a key dam in Ukraine have grown after new satellite photos revealed new devastation.

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There have long been worries that Russia could destroy the Nova Kakhovka on the Dnipro river, which could flood places downstream around newly-liberated Kherson.

The city, the only provincial capital seized by Russia since it invaded Ukraine, has been given up by the occupiers after their position on the west bank of the river became untenable.

The retreat was humiliating for Putin and social media is rife with cheering Ukrainians welcoming the liberating soldiers who moved in to the city.

Nova Kakhova is to the east of Kherson
Nova Kakhova is to the east of Kherson. Picture: Google

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But now the focus is on how bad the damage is to the dam north-east of the city.

Satellite company Maxar posted the new images of the dam on its Twitter account.

"New #satellite images (November 11, 2022, 10:25am local time) show significant damage to the Nova Kakhovka dam, near #Kherson, #Ukraine, with sections of the dam and sluice gates destroyed," it said.

Maxar said the northern part of the Soviet-era dam and sluice gates were "deliberately destroyed".

Ukraine has accused Russia of plotting to unleash a deluge downstream while Moscow, which has repeatedly tried to accuse Ukraine of atrocities its own forces have carried out, claimed Kyiv had previously shelled the structure.

Russian media previously warned that it could unleash a "grandiose water apocalypse" to stop Ukraine's relentless advances on the battlefield, liberating swathes of territory in the south after its stunning counter-attack in the east.

Kyiv had previously said it feared the Russian declaration that it was abandoning Kherson could be a trap.

During the retreat, Russia blew up the Antonivskiy bridge over the Dnipro, an important route across the river.

The retreat appears to have become a nightmare, with one member of Kherson's regional council saying Moscow’'s troops drowned as they fled the city.

Reports claimed some of them had resorted to dressing up as civilians to escape.

Ukraine celebrated the liberation of Kherson
Ukraine celebrated the liberation of Kherson. Picture: Getty

Russia wants to shore up its defences on the eastern side, in the rest of the Kherson region, which it needs to hold on to so it can keep a land bridge to Crimea, another Ukrainian territory it seized in 2014.

But the retreat is still devastating for Putin, marking a massive failure to hold the only significant city captured in the invasion.

Ultranationalists who have long called for escalation in the conflict were furious at the retreat, with one quoting a story about a king who is killed because he cannot bring about rain in a drought.

Ukraine has celebrated the liberation of the city.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said it was "ours" as the Ukrainian flag was seen flying across buildings and statues.