Russia has hit the dam at Kryvyi Rih with what is reported to be at least six ballistic missiles. The impact created sizable damage to a dam over the Inhulets River, resulting in a flood that for some time was raging downstream. Reportedly, several bridges have already been swept away, and a number of towns and villages on both sides of the river have experienced flooding as water levels rapidly rose.
However, additional reports indicate that local authorities have moved quickly to address the damage, and while water is still flowing from the fractured dam, the scale of the disaster has been greatly decreased. For the moment, at least, the threat of massive damage downstream appears to be on hold.
Like the recent attack on electrical infrastructure, this was absolutely a criminal act on the part of Russia. They aren’t going after military targets; they’re hitting civilian infrastructure as part of a direct effort to generate misery and outrage. Because somehow, seven months in, Vladimir Putin thinks that if he just hurts enough people, Ukraine will quit fighting. It is a definitive act, not just of state-sponsored terrorism, but of a terrorist state.
The dam is located several kilometers from the city, and from any military target. There is no doubt that, in this case at least, Russia hit exactly what they were aiming for—they expended multiple high-precision missiles to bring down critical civilian infrastructure. Not only is the attack on the dam a threat to every location downstream, it’s also an attack on electrical generation, drinking water, and water for agriculture and industry.
This attack does have military consequences. Even though Kryvyi Rih is in Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, it’s directly upstream from many of the critical locations in Kherson Oblast. Towns like Arkhanhel's'ke, Davydiv Brid, and Snihurivka are all along the banks of the Inhulets River. The highest elevations in Arkhanhel's'ke are only 10m above the river level in normal circumstances. Should that dam fail completely, it’s possible the whole town would be submerged in the resulting flood before water levels begin to drop. Downstream, pontoon bridges supporting the bridgehead south of Davydiv Brid would almost certainly be washed away; those bridges may be damaged or destroyed by the water that has already spilled.
It will probably be some hours before the full extent of the damage is known, and days before it’s clear the threat has passed. Even a modest rise in river levels may give Russian units in the northeastern part of occupied Kherson some isolation from Ukrainian forces to the west. This may give Russia time to reposition or attack the Inhulets bridgehead. The whole Kherson area has very little in the way of topography, so significant flooding would likely spread out broadly across the surrounding area.
One big change is already on this map in an area that’s unlikely to see any effect from any flooding of the Inhulets River. Kyselivka, directly west of Kherson, is reportedly liberated by Ukraine. This is a big deal.
For some weeks, the town had been divided east and west, with some intense periods of street-to-street fighting. There had been news in the last few days that the number of Russian soldiers in the town was dwindling. Now it seems there are none.
This could be part of the repositioning some sources have been predicted, with Russian forces moving back to a closer arc around the city of Kherson. It could also be a matter of supplies running so low that Russian forces could no longer defend their position. Whatever the cause, it brings Ukraine that much closer to the city, restoring a position that’s as close to Kherson as Ukrainian forces have reached since Russia occupied the city in the first two weeks of the invasion.
While Russia may have hit that dam with six missiles, it’s clear that at least one didn’t reach its target. Maybe that’s the difference between “things are under control” and rampaging floodwaters. Thankfully, we don’t know.
One last Kherson area note: Guesses are now open for what this may be, but since there has been word that Russia is apparently trying to create a new pontoon bridge across the southern Dnipro, odds are good that these structures could be related to Russia trying to address its supply problem in Kherson.
Meanwhile, at the far end of the line, there are updates in Kharkiv and Luhansk. There are now enough locations in the northern part of Kharkiv that have checked in, or appeared in official lists, that it’s possible to say that the northeastern corner of Kharkiv Oblast appears to be locked down.
On the latest map, you’ll note that the eastern part of the oblast has mostly been turned white, because, unlike the yellow areas on the map, there’s no known actual conflict in the area. It’s just that we don’t know who controls what. But the upper section of the east has become a familiar blue, because it seems to be genuinely liberated, with Ukrainian forces in the area. Other locations have been reported as liberated, but it’s not clear whether they’re representative of the entire area. Still, expect the white area to shrink in the next couple of days and be replaced with either red, or hopefully, blue. One thing that’s notable in these changes: None of the rivers in this area appear to be settling in as the new boundary. At least, not so far.
At the southern end of the oblast, things have also changed a bit. That’s because towns and locations southeast of Izyum have been confirmed as liberated. At the moment, it doesn’t seem that anything on the south or west side of the Oskil or Siverskyi Donets Rivers in this area is still occupied by Russia, though there are still doubtless some Russian forces still wandering around or occupying individual fortifications. There also seems to be some evidence for further advancement by Ukrainian forces across the Siverskyi Donets to the west of Izyum.
As with everything in this area, we’ll know more in a couple of days. For now, cross your fingers and hope that dam holds.
One reason why the folks doing the counteroffensive might not move quite so quickly as those doing the retreating.
Freeze frame from a video in Kryvyi Rih provides a pretty definitive ID for type of missile used.
Russia claimed to have footage of a Ukrainian attack on a barge across the Dnipro. What did the footage really show? A Russian helicopter colliding with a bridge support left over from World War II.