Warning: This site contains images and graphic descriptions of extreme violence and/or its effects. It's not as bad as it could be, but is meant to be shocking. Readers should be 18+ or a mature 17 or so. There is also some foul language occasionally, and potential for general upsetting of comforting conventional wisdom. Please view with discretion.

Thursday, August 31, 2023

Ghouta Report Debunk Efforts: Still Not Refuted & More from Marschke

August 31, 2023

(rough - edits pending)

Still Un-Refuted 

I got sidetracked with this so it's now been 10 years and 10 days since the Ghouta chemical massacre in the wee hours of 21 August, 2013. The Syrian military allegedly fired rockets and shells containing sarin nerve gas on opposition-held areas in the Damascus suburbs of East and West Ghouta, killing hundreds of civilians - reportedly as many as 1,100, 1,429, or even 1,700. (I can attest to a visual minimum of around 500, mostly geolocated to Ghouta, and I suspect the true number is around or over 1,000) It was the deadliest chemical weapons attack of the war or ever, aside from Halabjah in 1988. 

And yet, as many now complain, no one has been held directly to account or adequately punished, assuming this would be the Syrian government. They did already have to surrender their CW program, at least supposedly, to avoid US military strikes, and military aid to the insurgents increased due to the incident, among other detrimental effects. But none of the economic sanctions saddling the Syrian people, for example, were directly in response to this attack, but that could well change. No arrest warrants have been issued over it. And of course Assad was not deposed - there was no "ultimate price" paid. Folks are saying that needs to change. 

The always-amazing Aaron Maté recently reminded his followers on Twitter (now "X") "Today is 10th anniversary of the Ghouta chemical massacre in Syria. US blamed Syrian gov't, but all evidence points to sectarian death squad rebels. That's why Obama didn't bomb. There are Western officials who know more about Ghouta than has been publicly disclosed. Just as the OPCW leaks exposed the Douma deception, perhaps they will find a way to tell the truth about Ghouta." 

He followed with a shorth thread, concluding it with this note: "A 2021 open-source study from @MichaKobs , @CL4Syr and others traced all missile impact locations in Ghouta back to the most likely launch spot where they all intersected: a small area within insurgent-controlled territory. No one has refuted it."

As one involved in that study (I'm CL4Syr), I can boast that this study (embodied in TWO reports) is not perfect but actually pretty damn amazing. The material writes itself with the unfolding of reality, which is apparently pretty damn amazing - we're just there to transcribe it. Improvements can and have been made, but it remains the definitive work on the E. Ghouta volcano rocket attack. 

A few people have disputed it, some of them many times, in many ways. But, although they pretend otherwise, they've disputed it very poorly and no one has come close to refuting the study. 

Here at this blog I assessed the initial efforts to discredit it (general) (Prof. Scott Lucas in some detail). These were mainly irrelevant ad-hominem attacks, suggestions that we were bad people so our work was probably all wrong, or whatever. Essentially: "the findings could be true, for all we care, but these are such bad people with such dubious motives and characters - [we were called "Nazis"] - that just to spite them, you should go ahead and assume it's all wrong, or just refuse to even care. Take the risk of approving and continuing the coverup of this crime - the deliberate chemical mass-murder of several hundred Syrian citizens, including hundreds of women and children. Don't even worry how likely that risk is."

Such people are keenly aware that "Assad" and his "regime" and the people of Syria that rely on them need to be held accountable and punished further - punish them more - steal more oil & wheat, forbid rebuilding or any business interactions or any normalization, then maybe bring the war back in. To that end, guilt for as many crimes of the war as possible needs to be kept on Assad, by whatever fake news stories or backroom deals that requires, - especially as the alternative blame would tend to fall on foreign-backed "opposition" fighters and terrorists. Why complicate that imperative with any size a question? 

And a question the size we offer ... these people don't want that in anyone's mind, nor any of its associated details. Discussing the evidence just breathes life into it. Better to embargo the evidence into silence, or you could say better to "suffocate the truth," Put it in a bag, perhaps mark it "Nazi," or something to that effect, and throw it in the river.

A few started to challenge the actual evidence early on (see general post), but not very well, considering the many supporting layers of it in our study. German (I think) regime-change activist Kostja Marschke is an extra-prolific critic who does engage the primary evidence, and at least pretends this is what drives him to the familiar blanket derision. His opinions don't matter much, but some. He's no slouch when it comes to declaring fraud over our work, even including a few valid questions raised along with dozens of bogus ones, with a pretty obvious gatekeeper kind of agenda. 

But his efforts have offered more passed tests than we've gotten from everyone else combined, and merited a whole post already, besides mentions in the first debunks post, and now this post as well. Technically, he's been at it for years. Just recently, he's raised several bogus points based on imagining hard facts from unclear pixelated satellite views (grass where there should be concrete, no grass where there should be), reading some 3D models too literally and pretending these win some conflicts with the cases they're made to illustrate, not to replace, and other stupid tricks to invent all kinds of supposed fatal flaws. 

He never stops to re-assess the balance of evidence in light of each debunk, pretending there never was any evidence except the one point he pretends to disprove at the moment, and maybe for comparison, a few others he remembers casually chuckling over. He'll say our "entire theory relies on" X which he finds wrong. And it also relies solely on Y, and on Z, he says at other times, and separately it relies totally on AA, BB, CC, and so on. Each basis is clearly and incredibly wrong, he says, with frequent typed indications of laughter. He makes a repeated show of kicking each solitary support out from under us, always supposedly knocking us down, when we've supposedly been down from blow 1. We should be ground deep into the dirt by now, to hear Kostja boast. Yet we remain worth all the effort to pretend, over and over, to have finally disrupted our actual, upright position.

Aaron Maté - in another recent reminder -  had noted how "No one has refuted" our study. Marschke replied that it is "one of the most laughable "studies" ever produced" and essentially refutes itself. This baseless hyperbole is typical of his whole performance. The proof, as they say, is in the pudding.

Two Top Reasons

Marschke selected just 2 favorite arguments to show Aaron's readers how "laughable" our work is:

"1) The evidence for the field being "insurgent-controlled" is that a tank "cautiously" moved in an allegedly surrounding area 15 months after the attack. That's it, that's the entirety of the "evidence" for that claim." (post)

Also: "This is exactly why I've blocked Kobs: He's a liar. Look at his reply to my rebuttal: He just simply lies about the date of the tank video (The only "evidence" from his "study" supposedly showing opposition control). Not disclosed in the "study" either, by the way."

There is no reason to "disclose" any "lie" about the video date. Co-author Michael Kobs said in a separate tweet that the video in question (from ANNA News) is from "August 24, 2013." I've said the same on a few occasions, following his lead on a point I hadn't followed. That was wrong, but we honestly misunderstood co-author Chris Kabusk's explanation, as accurately put in the report, citing a relevant date wrongly. 

The video was posted about a year after the attack and might be recent or older - it compiles images of a whole military campaign to reclaim the wider area, running perhaps for months. But it shows damage to a certain building that, Kabusk decided and no one has disputed, did not exist yet in the August 23 Google Earth satellite view. So the video is from August 24, 2013 OR LATER, and perhaps months later. Someone more read-up on the course of the fighting could offer a decent guess for when, but it's not a pressing issue.

The salient point is the Syrian Arab Army was shooting towards this field from the north, as if opposition militants controlled the area, at some point at least 3 days after the chemical attack. That stands as evidence for opposition control on 21 August, although a longer time span would allow for possible back-and forth where the SAA - other details permitting - could have been in control of this field on the 21st.  

Marschke suggests regime troops might have had control or access on the night of the attack - but of course this field had nothing to do with the attack (right?), so ...  it just shows how wrong we are to make such a claim based on one video of unclear date. 

But it was never the only evidence. Michael and I got sloppy with this point partly because it was never major or central like Marschke pretends. It was just a bonus illustration of the well-informed and generally-agreed situation that Marschke is pretty well alone in questioning. The fact that he doesn't seem to realize that makes me feel I really wasted too much time on this poser.

Michael replied: "I love such attacks from behind a block. But your claim is BS. For eight years, hordes of investigators (including Eliot Higgins) have investigated the Ghouta attack, but you're the first to question the line of demarcation. Do you have any valid reason for this?" I think Kostja un-blocked Michael then - some debate ensued. Michael showed Charles Wood's 2014 map as used in both our reports and available at A Closer Look on Syria, but with approximate launch spot added. 

This map was based on numerous primary sources (published maps, reports, videos (notably by ANNA News), satellite imagery). As Wood explained for my report: “Contact lines are indications based on insurgent and ANNA videos and my training in basic infantry tactics. Narrow contact lines between Police College and Qaboun, and Syronics and Qaboun are an estimate based on no reported serious damage to either institution.”

The Eliot Higgins/Bellingcat take was based on similar study of the same open-source evidence, combined it on the map in almost totally the same exact way. Bellingcat excludes this field from their green island of government control in exactly the same way Wood's map did. 
Monitor on Massacre Marketing: Rocket Man: Some Government-Held Firing Spot or Other (libyancivilwar.blogspot.com)

The only real difference between these maps is in the upper part of black-dash area on Wood's map. This had tanks present on 23 August (Google Earth satellite view), likely a new development amid a fast-moving offensive that only started on the 20th. Bellingcat maps assume a presence here already on the 21st while Wood and I doubt it, although it is fairly possible, and likely enough in my opinion. 

That minor dispute is only somewhat near our field in question. Neither map includes the field in question as government-held. This isn't gospel or certain fact, but a well-informed guess, with the disputed ANNA video just going to support that this field was rebel-held that night, and for some time after, probably continuously.

This "entirety of the evidence" claim is so stupid and easy to disprove I suspect it's no conscious deception - Marschke just wasn't paying good attention. He saw the note that this was the only video we had so close to the field itself, took it to that to mean it was the only evidence there was regarding the local control situation. He should know better by now, if he knows this case like he pretends to, after years of supposedly disproving us over it. 

"2) The methodology on how the trajectories were "measured" by the study is laughable, too. Investigators on the ground couldn't measure the impact direction, but Kobs tried to do it using the size of bricks. Lol." https://twitter.com/KostjaMarschke/status/1688992180164001793

When I asked what he meant by "couldn't measure" - he meant the 2 sites out of 3 they visited in E. Ghouta but did no measure for, finding it "pointless," as he put it - not exactly impossible. https://twitter.com/KostjaMarschke/status/1692495054252728478 

They actually said the other 2 sites “do not present physical characteristics allowing a successful study of the trajectories followed by the rockets involved, due to the configuration of the impact places."” We found one impact to an apartment wall and balcony extremely vague, but the other on a rooftop more useful, pointing northwest - and the investigators apparently agreed somewhat, citing it to Joby Warrick as if they had used it to find the northwest firing area.  https://www.securitycouncilreport.org/atf/cf/%7B65BFCF9B-6D27-4E9C-8CD3-CF6E4FF96FF9%7D/s_2013_553.pdf

The Syrians Executed the Most Deadly Chemical Weapons Attack in Generations—With U.N. Inspectors There (newsweek.com)

But this brick issue refers to the garden wall impact investigators never even looked at (above, Wall 2, in magenta). Using a brick as a handy measure works fine when you're looking at basic proportions to set a basic angle for mapping purposes. The rocket impact in the ground is about 3 bricks right of where the rocket punched through the wall, and about 1.8 bricks out from the wall. The actual brick size doesn't matter - the proportion is roughly 3 to 1.8 (also = 5:3) of whatever unit. 

People on the ground could do it better, but no one did, so this is the best we can do (Michael's work, and I follow and agree). It's not exact, but pretty good - a visual reading that sets an approximate angle that, like the others, points back roughly to the same field. Marschke doesn't even explicitly challenge the measure itself, or venture his own measure or method, Is it more like a 2:1 angle? Determined how? He doesn't care. It points to "hold Assad accountable" and it's politically biased and "insane" to look for yourself and find any differently. 

He: "Just listen to yourself with your 1.8 bricks as measurement. Listen to yourself and consider what a person who isn't incredibly politically motivated would think about this. It might explain your disagreements with [UN investigator Åke] Sellström."

Me: "Any person who wants to form a basic idea of what happened. What's wrong about that? I'm s'posed to feel shame or something? F off w/such efforts. Shame. my dude." 

He: "Any person who would want a "basic" idea" about what happened would start making insane measurements based on bricks?" He just couldn't explain what's actually insane about using a handy measurement unit to establish a basic proportional angle. He apparently doesn't even understand what we did here or how hollow his effort was. He just took another random chance to call us biased and insane. 

"Disagreements with Sellström"

On the side with the above, another thread emerged - my "disagreements with Sellstrom." Pressed to specify, Marschke explained: "You haven't noticed how your entire theory relies on Sellström being wrong about both measured impact angles"

No ... it INCLUDES the UN-OPCW report being wrong about the one. The other doesn't matter. Maybe he thinks we argue the D30 howitzer was firing on Moadamiyah, and that both fronts of attack were from this one field. I'm not sure where he heard that, as we did discuss it some, but I don't see where it made it into the final collective report, and it sure isn't in my side report. I for one never agreed to this point, but then I didn't follow the evidence closely. Maybe "Sellstrom" was wrong about that angle and maybe it was fired from here. Marschke says "The D-30 doesn't support the caliber used in Moadamiyah," so not if he's correct. I really don't know and don't greatly care. My own take on our theory has no reliance or opinion on this point. 

Anyway, our theory does include "Sellström" being wrong about the site 4 angle, and we definitely noticed that. We also noticed that he just signed off on it. The OPCW's representative, Mr. Scott Cairns, is a more likely source for the measurement and/or reporting of the rocket angle. And for what it's worth, Marschke - once adequately pressed - has to agree that this reading IS wrong after all. Did Marschke ever notice that his theory relies on "Sellström being wrong" about the same angle?

Me: "No more talk until after you've given some answer to the 8-degrees-blind-trust question. Review my latest tweets as needed. Otherwise, you've become completely pointless to me." 

I've asked him several times to affirm or refute this alleged reading or to comment on his ally Eliot Higgins doing both. Until this point, Marschke had ignored the requests to press his urgent interrogation about a supposed shadow or something.

begin reply: "...As for your question: I don't think that angle is either 8° or 39°." 

That's something I can my teeth into, finally. He thinks everyone was wrong until he had his layman's look. How clever! He gets to maintain we're wrong, even as he admits so was the UN-OPCW investigation - or at least he agrees that the printed and visible angles clearly do not match. Marschke hesitated for a while, but finally agreed his theory also includes Sellström being wrong. It's OK for him, he assumes, because he's still blaming "Assad" like good people do. He doesn't see a "conspiracy" to frame Assad. And neither do we, for sure. We admit it might be some coincidence in which they published an angle 30 degrees wrong that, intersected with their other angle, indicated a regime-controlled artillery base many sources like HRW and NYT pushed at the attack origin. It was a handy political effect, but possibly achieved on accident.

Kostja Marschke is not the first regime-changer to grudgingly or mutably acknowledge the fact of this angle mismatch. As related at Rocket Man: Just Blindly Trust the "UN Azimuth", Bellingcat founder Eliot Higgins did as much in at least two comments from January, 2014, having seen all the images and some views of a quality 3D model produced by Chris Kabusk: "the UN azimuth for one of the rockets doesn't match the 3D model on those maps, seems 50 degrees off to the north." - "Based off the geolocated munitions the point of origin is from the north (even the UN one they said was from the NW)"

By September, Bellingcat was in effect and, perhaps coincidentally, Higgins had changed his tune. He seemed to be in basic agreement with Kabusk, until he noted this new estimate added to his emerging picture of NW origins, in fact near the site of an August 24 sarin attack on SAA troops - as the likely spot we identified in 2021 is. This had to be sitting poorly with Higgins. The overall angle, as Chris put it, is "like UN's presumed flight path but off a bit and 1.5-2.5km ranges." Higgins replied incredulously: "You still think the wall Volcano was measured wrong by the UN?" He was perplexed, if not appalled, to hear the real angles described as "off a bit" from what the trusted "UN" had reported. It's as if the reading had been shown correct somewhere since January, but that can hardly be. Higgins was insisting on deference to something he knew to be false. He would later accept praise from others for "replicating" the UN-OPCW finding with his open-source work that always pointed more to the north. And it was never very good - most of the good parts were copied from Kabusk (and 'til recently containing one of his errors we've since corrected).

Ok, back to Marschke. He gave some explanation for his disgreement with Sellstrom and everyone. 

"Why do I think that? The shadow of the rocket...is at an [angle] > 90 degrees relative to the wall. As a layman, [I would] think the sun would've had to come from an almost orthogonal direction relative to the rocket to achieve that, given how small the shadows of the inspectors are. Where did the sun come from, though?"

"That's tough to say, given that we don't have the [exact] time the video was taken. But there's a clue: We can see the inspectors take a soil sample a few seconds later. Only two soil samples from the report match that, taken at 14:34 and 14:38, respectively."

"That also explains why there's not much of a shadow from the wall.

It also passes my eye test better than your angle which, needless to say, is quite clownishky [sic] measured."

"Now, does that say definitely where the rockets come from? No." 

He was too responsible to specify an area or direction, of course, based on such limited information. But what WOULD his angle say? I read him wrong in haste, thinking he saw the rocket as roughly perpendicular to the wall like its shadow was. I had some laughs about that, then read it more carefully. ESRL Global Monitoring Laboratory - Global Radiation and Aerosols (noaa.gov) gives me, for August 24 at 2:34 PM a reverse azimuth (shadow angle on flat earth) about 27 degrees clockwise from north, or 20 deg clockwise from perpendicular with the wall. Orthogonal = at a right angle. A rocket orthogonal to that sunlight would be about 20 deg. from parallel. OK. I'm not sure how he reasoned it out, but that's actually not terrible. Not 8 or 39, but something like 20, right in between - just different enough to say no one got it right until Kostja had his look. Not even the trusted UN-OPCW inspectors.

Our "clownish way" - "needless to say" - includes now at least 4 ways total, in broad agreement. Others had read higher, partly from shadow illusions and a sense of "almost perpendicular" - 50-75°. Eliot Higgins saw it off by about 50° from the UN angle, so around 58°, similar to WhoGhouta, Richard Lloyd, and Chris Kabusk. That was based partly on Kabusk's model (see above the Jan. 2014 tweets). He's one of us on the 2021 study, so that's one of our 4 methods - the fanciest, but not the best (dark blue wedge w/Eliot's take down the middle in yellow). I did a rough visual study (see here) that said it was definitely less than 48°, with no clear bottom (43-48 shown here) - it seemed everyone else had read it a bit high. Later (at least from my end) Michael's flight-line view got 38°, and I had to be a butt and refine it to 38.5 rounded to 39 in my side-report, with a fair +/- of one degree. 

That's 3 ways. Just now I tried another method that occurred to me. The tail end is visible at a 45-ish angle. With the wall running basically ahead, the circular tail would appear at a 2:1 vertical-horizontal ratio at a proper 45° angle and 1:1 ratio if parallel and seen from behind. 1.8:1 as seen is 1/5 of the way between those, so I reason 9°. less than a 45, or around 36 degrees. Exact 3D details maybe notwithstanding, that's probably close to the facts, and very close to the excellent measure we still go by. Again, the "precise" measurement endorsed by the trusted UN-OPCW was about EIGHT degrees from parallel. We'd see that rocket almost entirely from behind.

Note this isn't a vertical object, ground not level - shadow cast too complex for me to read. Here's a modeling Michael did including the rocket angle we estimate and the angle of sun at the time, plus his estimate for mound shape, all seeming to explain the video view quite well. This might help understand why the "perpendicular shadow" is a misleading illusion.

We have 4 different ways to say the angle is 55-60, ~45, 38/39, or ~36. That's a wide spread, but this totally wins over a single quick estimate that lets Kostja Marschke pretend he's the first one to ever get it kind of right. This is, as I said, vague, disingenuous, and very poser-ish. I could ask Marschke to "Just listen to yourself with your "rocket is kind of at a right angle to the sun" and consider what person who isn't incredibly politically motivated would think about this. It might explain your disagreement with Sellström and everybody else." His theory relies on Sellström being wrong and, as he had just explained, such disagreements might be motivated by the same extreme political bias that has one undertaking crude measurements and making insanely bold claims. Huh. He might be onto something after all.

But he has a solution where the OPCW got it right and only Chris. Michael and I - along with Eliot Higgins, Richard Lloyd and WhoGhouta - got it wrong. Or actually, we got it right enough or not and it doesn't matter - the original angle was just as reported, and simply never seen. It's an article of faith.  

As I follow, he suggests the inspectors must've measured 105/285° "precisely" with "no form of lateral bending." first, then pulled the rocket aside, leaving it aligned 30° different than before - or he thinks more like 12° - and coincidentally pointing to the same field 7 other rockets point to - or he thinks pointing to a different spot, when the rest all point ... wherever we don't say they do. And then all known images were taken after that strange manipulation - the original correct angle Kostja proposes was never seen. It's mythical. And the photos and videos where it's 30° different, after whatever change ... it still shows no form of lateral bending nor any sign I've noticed of the engine having been pulled from its original angle.

That sounds plain absurd, but he had, in fact, just imagined this as a way around the whole problem. 

"The inspectors could've moved the rocket after measuring the azimuth, for example, to inspect the side of the warhead. That renders everything you and I said moot anyway." https://twitter.com/KostjaMarschke/status/1692581076395262063

It's a very imaginative solution that probably sounds soothing to his ears - it's all "moot", like it was just a dream. I bet he'll settle on it as the answer to this whole problem. Inspectors coincidentally MADE the tube wind up pointing to that field 2km away, even as 7 other rockets also point there. Oh, and the 7 others must've been moved around too, coincidentally to point back to the same spot, rather than to their actual origin(s), which ... 

He'll decided that the firing spot can never be known. It's way too complex and stuff, and will remain a mystery where faith alone matters. Kostja Marschke knows what good people should believe, and how that belief should "moot" the facts of the 3D world. Of course, we inhabit the 3D world, and are somehow interconnected with everyone else in it, and also with some hundreds of Syrian civilians who no longer inhabit it, after this not-so-mysterious crime 10 years and 10 days ago claimed their lives. 

Done Talking

Me: "bump on this as more interesting. @KostjaMarschke  what angle were you thinking, when you decided to question Sellstrom & everyone? 8 deg. from parallel would show the tail end at 1.2:1 ratio, and we see 1.8:1, = ~36 deg. or roughly what we got looking right down the tube (38/39)"

Marschke: "Nope, no more talk until we're done with the field."

We would never be done with the field until at least one of us stopped talking, and I was already just about ready to quit the game anyway. So I replied:

"Well I'm done with that, so we're done. I have you at something vague and disingenuous where you're the first person to get it right, but not specified, where the shadows and time mattered somehow, and you were apparently clueless. I'm good w/that." (I figured out the best reading, above, after that comment.)

He: "Of course you're done with that" because he was totally winning, listing absurdities in our work he claimed to have proven. 

Me: "yep, your big ol' list I finally got bored with. Go play with that."

He: "Of course, you're not out of arguments, you're just "bored"."

Me: "just sick of it, for a bit before that ultimatum. I know it could go on forever and you'll always "win." Let's just cut to it. You "win" as always."

Tuesday, August 8, 2023

Nova Kakhovka Dam: Erosion vs. Explosion Debates

Part 6 of "What Caused the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka Dam?  "

August 8, 2023

Limited Truth vs. Anti-Truth Cultists 

In 5 bloated posts here, I've been making the case that Ukraine and its hydropower agency UHE were the ones who destroyed the Nova Kakhovka dam two months ago now. (for reference as they come up - part 1 - part 2 - part 3 - part 4 - part 5) The story is of less interest to most people now, and that's lucky for Ukraine. Much evidence I've uncovered assembles nicely into a case I could see almost from the start - Kyiv consciously weaponized the Dnipro River against the Russians, destroying the occupied Nova Kakhovka dam with deliberate over-flooding in April and May, atop erosion worsened by Ukrainian rocket attacks, deepening this hydrologic scouring until it undermined the dam. 

I haven't proposed this a certain fact to fit my preconceived notion, but as well-illustrated case to consider. I strongly suspect it's true, as the evidence I see keeps fitting with my starting hunch, or a version of it that grows to fit the evidence (hopefully more than the other way around). It's a familiar process by now. As always, I don't know the truth for certain. And to others, I can only make the case as best I can. 

One part of my theory is likely to become a mainstream "established fact," even though it's been loudly overruled so far. Erosion, not explosions, probably brought down the dam. Ukraine's celebrated post-2014 government, its military, and its dam operators were always clear a Russian bomb here or there was responsible. Supportive governments, Norwegian experts with seismograph readings, US spy satellites, experts cited by the New York Times, and the entire corporate media - mainly citing the Times piece - all claim to prove the same. That's the anti-Russia orthodoxy. 

And yet quite a few mainstream-thinking Ukraine boosters - especially the ones who know the evidence and the related fields - have been surprisingly unhesitant to question that orthodoxy and propose erosion was the likely cause. They have no problem holding Russia to account for alleged crimes, but this time the evidence leads them to let it go. They generally conclude that Russia is guilty, but of something more like negligence than terrorism. Still, I find it refreshing - a breath of less-stale air.

First, I noticed Ryan McBeth - an "OSINT" analyst of moderate knowledge and middling talent, with some mutable respect for reality - was willing to basically dismiss the bomb narrative, and suggest the dam fell due to erosion. Link to research, with discussion: Ryan McBeth on Twitter: "Explosives didn't bring down the Kakhovka Dam, negligence and Colin Powell's "Pottery Barn Rule" did. - Video: How Russia Destroyed the Kakhovka Dam - YouTube - The video was a starting point for my own analysis in part 1.

Regarding the seismic signals, McBeth spoke with a seismologist, Prof. Eric Dunham, and came away with the impression that if there were bombs used, "the explosion AND subsequent collapse should come in as two different kinds of waves," while we see a concentration of spikes that could just be the rumble of the dam breaking and the start of violent flooding. Dunham, McBeth, myself, and many others agree with this, and at least one of us is an expert. 

As many others have done, McBeth also pointed to the curved section of roadway that collapsed a few days before the dam, as a sign of progressing erosion (my own graphic above, and McBeth narrowed the collapse down to in between images of June 1 and June 2). He didn't seem to understand the concrete apron making this an unlikely event, but then he also missed the signs of failure in this apron making it pretty likely after all (see my part 4). He didn't know exactly how, but one way or another, he was sure some Russian negligence was to blame.

Ukraine-boosters were fairly polite in replies to this work, since McBeth was blaming Russia, after all. But they were sure he had it wrong, that the seismic readings proved a deliberate and criminal explosion. They couldn't demonstrate why, but that's what they had heard. Later, the NYT report would erase all doubt for such people.

For some reason, Eliot Higgins and the crew at Bellingcat have barely discussed the dam collapse, that I found, except indirectly. They used OSINT to identify a new dam the Russian built at Tokmak, they think to cause new flooding and prevent a Ukrainian encroachment. They put this out as indirect support to Russian dam plots, but had little to say about Kakhovka itself, aside from this side-note tweet: "The exact events leading up to the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam remain unclear. @nytimes reported that evidence suggested it was instigated by an inside explosion set off by Russia. Bellingcat has not been able to independently verify this claim."

Wolfsangel-clad Pro-Ukraine cultists, the same Banderites already angry at Bellingcat for supposedly exaggerating Ukraine's Nazi problem, showed up to pile on the hate for this skepticism. Why was it even needed to "independently confirm" the evident facts? Everyone knows Russians mined the dam, planned to blow it up, admitted to blowing it up, and satellites and sensors picked it up, so how dare they question NYT? If you don't blame Russia unquestioningly for the maximum crime, you're basically killing these people all over again. And so, according to these people, Bellingcat supports Russian genocide and ecocide in Ukraine. They might be working for Russia, consciously using their other work as a disguise for that core mission. 

The nerd has me blocked, but I hear Bellingcat member Aric Toler suggested an act of "mother nature" might have collapsed the dam, rather than anyone's bombs, although he says "I'm the furthest thing from an engineer." I've seen a lot further from an engineer than that. He was piled on by the cultists, I guess leading to their stretched reading of what the Bellingcat account had said (see here and here and the cartoon above). 2 strikes plus the Nazi talk and it was looking pretty obvious Bellingcat were Russian stooges. To these people. probably 98% of people on Earth would classify as Russian stooges.

Andrew Barr is not quite an example of someone agreeing with me across the aisle, but he's worth a mention. He did some good work\on the dam collapse I hadn't looked at closely enough until just now, including a look at erosion as "worth discussing" at least. He looked at the 2017 failure of the Oroville dam, noting "It's possible that something similar could happen at Kakhovka, but the drawings suggest great care was taken to account for the ground conditions." (tweet) That's the concrete apron. He wondered if the roadway collapse was caused by erosion, but seeing this, he decided probably not, even though that remains the best explanation. My own analysis suggests the apron was broken and uneven well before 2022, a condition worsened by the war and the constant, narrowed outflow, and that its worsening is just what led to the subsidence of a part of a divider and then this roadway, with its attached columns and flow guides that probably went first. A Barr commenter raised some excellent points including this, also noting "I happen to live with two civil engineering majors.  Both came to the conclusion it was some sort of scour [erosion] failure after seeing that the bridge supports were gone the morning before the dam gave way." (these were actually gone earlier, on June 1 or 2).

Barr would decide "I think internal explosion(s) remain the most likely cause," even though "nothing I've said rules out existing damage to the barrage and downstream erosion as comorbidities." (Andrew Barr on Twitter.) As far as I can tell, the kind of structural collapse he suggests at the HPP could be caused by an internal bomb or a mechanical collapse as I propose. I think he could and should come back to the issue. 

I had some agreeable interactions with Dutch researcher OSINTJOURNO - a Ukraine booster who nonetheless saw signs of erosion perhaps related to Ukrainian rocket attacks, perhaps in addition to explosives. She followed this with a rigorous analysis of all images, construction details, as well as plant employees, although the latter proved the less reliable evidence in the end. A later review thread with great visual aids said in part; "It cannot be ruled out that the Russians may have accelerated or aided the collapse of the Kakhovka dam on June 6" but "the dam was already so structurally damaged on June 2, 2023, that it was no longer salvageable at that time." As I've put it, there may have been bombs set, but if so, it comes with this coincidence that the dam was set to collapse any day regardless.

Debate with Julien DuPont

My most interesting point of agreement came in a less agreeable discussion with Julien DuPont, who claims and seems to be a French expert in the field ("Hydrology and hydraulic infrastructures happen to be my job." tweet). He responded to my last article, starting with: "Fully agree that the destruction was caused by erosion and not explosion. Fully disagree that Ukraine had anything to do with it: time series of water levels in the upstream dams show that their dams management was perfectly normal and similar to past years." 

As I started out, "Similar" doesn't cut it when the differences are what they are - skipping spring irrigation 'til mid-April, taking on heavy rains then w/net DROPS after, as Kakhovka was flooded with all of the excess, after all that damage, stuck gates & erosion ..." Nothing DuPont said really addressed that, but we repeated the exercise several times, and there was a chance for learning on both sides - along the way some new data and thinking have already re-shaped my views slightly. 

DuPont acknowledged Ukraine may have made some minor mistakes ("Neither side had any interest in destroying the dam. But neither side did its best to prevent this from happening. Very sad story." tweet), but if anyone was to blame, it must be Russia. He came with assumptions of normalcy. and the approved mainstream bias you're supposed to ignore, thought he could set me straight with some basic words, with no original thought or learning required on his own part. Then he had a hard time accepting that wasn't the case - I had questions he couldn't answer so easily, and plausible answers he didn't even try to understand. 

He dabbled in false-flag science to bolster his preconceived notion that I was totally wrong. He doubted the Ukrainians would waste valuable water by destroying a dam and its reservoir and so, if they wanted to do it, would chose bombs instead, and would have been able to do that (tweet). But if they did decide to use the river itself, he's sure they would have wasted way more water than the amounts sent, even though he agrees that did suffice to collapse the dam (tweet). He knows water, and sometimes logic.

He rightly pointed out that the small reservoirs, which I had considered too heavily, barely matter for volume; comparisons between the 2 big lakes - Kremenchuk & Kakhovka - tell most of the story more simply. He focused on Kremenchuk levels, saying over and over how they were similar to those in most years, and would come out much lower if Kakhoka had been over-flooded. But he seems to ignore the nature & timing of the small differences with other years and, more importantly with the other lake this same year, getting out-of-phase with Kakhovka in a way that really illustrates my own points (see graphic with red and blue lines below).  

DuPont: "If it was really UKR's objective to flood the KL, then they would have doubled down and released massive amounts of water. That did not happen, as the Krementchusk level remained constant until June."

Me: "Hey, they doubled down and released massive amounts of water. That's why Kakhovka was 100% full, 1m past normal max, for one month, despite 4 gates pouring 24/7. It's a crazy lot of water. Not seeing it vanish somewhere else doesn't change that." 

That was my favorite point. He fails to understand we're considering a possible shell game with water, where movements can be obscured, where outflow can be replaced to maintain the natural appearance, especially when there was heavy new flow in April to draw from. And that natural appearance matters, as DuPont knows, having cited it right off to suggest Ukrainian innocence. He could make better use of the volumes and timing of that game, if it existed. But he only wants to squint away such details until everything looks fuzzy but kind of normal, just like he lazily anticipated. 


DuPont also argued that Lake Kremenchuk was filled roughly to the physical brim at certain points over the years, and that's why it's unlikely would they keep a significant "freeboard" of unfilled capacity that might have been used to forestall disaster in 2023: "the maximum level observed 4 times in 30 years HAS to be very close to the maximum allowable level. And obviously, the maximum level is NEVER to be exceeded." (tweet). He tried it out for good measure, though he didn't seem to think it was real: "But let's assume there was, let's say, 1m available freeboard that could have been filled." (right) He decided it wouldn't have mattered: "by 9th April, the Krementschusk reservoir would have been full and the UKR would have released water to keep the level constant, in exactly the same amount as they did in April-May." They would do it later, after Kakhovka had time to deal with the excess it was just dealt. That alone would have made a huge difference.

He's the expert, but I read that some freeboard is a standard safety feature of dams. Freeboard - Types of Free Board, Determination of Freeboard & Its Uses (aboutcivil.org) explains that it's usually 1.5 times the height of expected waves atop the "maximum design-pool elevation." In practice, I only know Lake Kakhovka normally kept 1m of freeboard;16.5m is the normal maximum held for years, and it was filled the last meter to 17.5. before it started pouring over the top. I don't think these figures are in dispute. Kremenchuk and the others are quite likely the same, despite what DuPont thinks, although I suppose we can't be certain of that. 

Logically, you wouldn't use this extra capacity lightly, but heavily, when the alternative is dangerous flooding downstream, like forcing Kakhovka to use ALL of its "freeboard" for a month straight. And that applies here. 

DuPont linked me to a new resource, a USDA site with reservoir levels read by passing satellites. By the USDA graph, I'd say the normal high at Lake Kremenchuk is 81.6m (about what he gets - see above). 81.8 was reached last year, and about 81.9 this year, both exceptions to the norm, bur proving there is at least about 0.3 meters that could be filled, yet never had been until the current conflict. 81.9 could be the physical limit, but we're considering freeboard, and the limited precedent says it may be 1m above the normal high. That would be 82.6m. This year they filled it to or past normal, to 81.6 or 81.9, depending on the measure (USDA chart gives the higher number, Hydroweb stations the lower one). That would leave 0.7m to the full meter of unused capacity, depending. I'm going with 0.7 and suggesting they used some of that space this year - about 30% of it. But again, this is all guesswork.

Lake vs. lake

Next, I compared the USDA graphs for the 2 lakes (G-REALM - Kremenshugskoye (usda.gov) & G-REALM - Kakhovskoye (usda.gov)) with 2022-23 overlaid so the known and possible 1m freeboard are to scale and therefore all is - 1m = 1m. This puts the lie to this claim of harmonious balance as in years past. 

The reservoirs start roughly in sync, but from mid-2022 as Ukrainian attacks on the dam commenced, a pattern emerges where Kremenchuk drains extra low as Kakhovka fills extra high, or in Dec-Feb, it holds back so that Kremenchuk was building to its normal high through February and March, as Kakhovka sank to a record low in February, and was kept well below normal range through March. You build up like Kremenchuk did by taking water in and passing on little to none of it. Normal maximum and record low, on the same river, just 1 month apart - that's a disastrous imbalance. Some of that water should have already been sent to Kakhovka and passed into the sea in an orderly manner. Instead, it was saved up all winter (this, noted skipping of spring irrigation at Kyiv HPP) as Ukraine complained of the shortfall at Kakhovka. It was kept until 20-year record rainfall was on its way, and THEN it was sent almost all at once along with that rain.

My big point in part 2 was how this heavy water load should be shared better than it was. I've learned some details since then, and now I see it was shared a bit better than I thought. I'm noticing in the USDA chart a serious drawdown at the end of March that was only faintly suggested in the Hydroweb records. This would serve to refill the stations that had apparently just raised Kakhovka to low normal. (Dnipro HPP had just begun its filling that would never stop, but at the moment, it was some belated correction of the imbalance). They likely could foresee the heavy April rains coming and made some room. 

Still, when that rain came, it pushed both lakes past normal high levels. But there was still a serious imbalance in that. Kremenchuk's level rose 1m from early April, and spent some 50 days past normal high, mostly at about 0.3 or 0.4m past. That's nothing to scoff at, but they probably retained 60-70% of their freeboard capacity at the worst point. Kakhovka rose some 2m after early April and might have risen further if that were even possible. It spent about the same 6-7 weeks past its normal high, and most of that time was spent 100% full. 

Retained likely freeboard: 60-70% compared to 0%. That's a load that could have been shared better, Wasn't I supposed to learn something new here? And from there, Kremenchuk shed some, and was about 0.1m below normal high and probably 1.1m below physical capacity by early June, as Kakhovka was wrapping up a full month AT physical capacity, and was about to collapse. 

DuPont: "Any dam can store water up do a maximum level determined by its design. A proper dam operation in case of intense rainfall consists in keeping the water level below that max level which is obviously the upper end of normal range. It should never overtop." 

Me: "Well, UHE thought Kakhovka should overtop for a month straight. Otherwise, they would NOT have kept sending ALL the excess to them. They would share the load, if they agreed with you. And usually I guess they do. But seems they had special considerations this year."


According to the data, DuPont feels the amount of water sent by UHE's dams in April and May was just fine, and only became disastrous because of the Russians. Safety standard left no room for excess upstream, so UHE had to send it. Kakhovka could have made room just fine, but the Russians messed that up by opening too few floodgates. Therefore, I gather, it's OK that UHE's dams filled Kakhovka to 100% full and MAINTAINED it like that for weeks on end. 

It's just like those traffic laws that apply when you drive your bus into a car that should have turned out of your path but never did. You saw it coming and could have turned yourself, but the other driver fell asleep at the wheel or whatever, so it's OK to drive right over that car. In fact it's the responsible thing to do, since turning can be dangerous. In the same way (?), DuPont maintains if the Russians wouldn't or couldn't open more floodgates, then it's fair to send such a torrent it cannot be managed, and to see that happening for weeks on end as you keep adding to it, until you collapse the fucking dam with erosion. Pardon my French. 

Then you can say "well, they should have opened more (and/or different) floodgates." This is what "responsible dam operators" do. Or so I gather, after some discussion with an expert. 

Now, obviously, IF the Russian-affiliated dam managers could open more and different floodgates, that would lessen the overload, while adding less to the worsening erosion. They quite obviously should have changed that situation, as early as possible, once the flood was upon them. But again, it's not clear they could do this, when the cranes that run the gates never moved for 6 months - they might have become somehow deactivated. 

And furthermore, the four gates left constantly open were already pushing the downstream areas to near flood level. Any more release, as DuPont proposed, would probably push it past flood level. 

Not because they wanted to, but because they were trying their hardest to drain the reservoir OR doing the NOTHING they could do, the Russians were already flooding their own defensive trenches, reportedly drowning one soldier. On hearing me point that out, DuPont almost giggled and suggested the Russians COULD just leave, because that flooding really should have been worsened ("If they didn't want to be drowned, nobody prevented them from leaving the area." tweet). I reminded him people live there too, and he may have dropped that point, tacitly ceding that flooding the Kherson way was not the ideal solution. Opening more floodgates would entail that, so it was never the right answer to a situation that really should not have existed. 

So even at its best, his reason to approve of this over-flooding lacks real value. Ryan McBeth, Aric Toler and the rest will probably hold similar flawed assumptions as they ignore how the situation at that dam was made unmanageable ... let's just say "for no obviously wholesome reason." As I noted early on, the Russians were left releasing far too much water AND not releasing nearly enough water all at the same time, having ended up with way too much to deal with. I'm not crazy for seriously wondering about that. 

Maybe he can come around, but it's difficult for some people. At the end he was striking a fake or uninformed pose of dismissing my whole case as "a joke" based on "pre-established conclusion that UKR had an evil plot from the start" (tweet), only imagining that I had found supporting evidence. I don't believe it when he says he fully reviewed my bloated writings before declaring global fraud, all comprehensive and proven-like: "I read everything, including your blog posts, very carefully." But he showed unawareness of my points on several occasions and, as noted, failed to really address the relevant evidence, even as he pretended to. 

K Johnson was on hand to like and maybe advise DuPont's last tweets, It was more his poser style than that of the human being I was interacting with previously. But perhaps that's just him being frustrated with me. 

So anyway, while other people swap NYT/SBU ghost stories about Russian bombs, give each other prizes for the best story, and shame anyone who doubts the stories, that's the kind of lively debate that exists among smart people discussing what ACTUALLY happened to the Nova Kakhovka dam.  

Monday, July 31, 2023

How Ukraine's Hydropower Authority Quietly Destroyed the Nova Kakhovka Dam

Part 5 of What Caused the Collapse of the Nova Kakhovka Dam? 

July 31, 2023 (slightly rough - edits Aug. 1, 3)

UHE and Russia's Chernobyl 2.0

Ukrhydroenergo (Ukr-Hydro-Energo - hereafter UHE) is Ukraine's largest hydroelectric company, restructured in 2004 from another company formed in 1994.  (Wikipedia) UHE operates many of Ukraine's Soviet-era and newer hydroelectric power plants (HPPs) and linked dams, and thus exerts control over many of the nation's rivers. On the Dnieper (or Dnipro) River, they used to run six dams and linked HPPS in their prized "Dnieper Cascade." The last of the six - Nova Kakhovka dam and hydropower plant - was seized by Russian forces on day one of their "Special Military Operation" in 2022 and occupied until it was destroyed, under disputed circumstances, on June 6, 2023.

It was only on June 1, a few days before that disaster, that UHE  proudly announced how it "has become a member of the International Hydropower Association (IHA)." Website: International Hydropower Association. It seems they could have achieved IHA membership years ago, but something had precluded it right past the Orange Revolution, the Maidan events, the Crimean secession and Donbass "Anti-Terroror Operation," Minsk, Zelenskyy, and one year of Russia's partial occupation of Ukraine. The issue might relate to now-ongoing anti-corruption efforts at UHE. ("Prevention and countering of corruption is one of the priorities of Ukrhydroenergo. On February 14, an online seminar was held with professionals on anti-corruption activities of the Company's branches." (Telegram

Ukraine has at times been recognized as the most corrupt nation in Europe. It seems UHE was - or is - no exception. They have a history of some members making secret, illegals deals for some kind of profit. UHE are also good patriots, as everyone must be in the face of Russia's invasion. Ending or at least complicating the Russian occupation of parts of Ukraine ... well, that's profitable to everyone, they'd say. In this light, they might conspire with Ukraine's military on some clever plan, even if it were technically illegal and would have to be denied.

Just a few days after UHE joined the IHA, both parties had a chance to lament the irreparable collapse of the occupied Nova Kakhovka dam and HPP. The IHA issued a statement decrying the "tragedy," citing some details from "our members Ukrhydroenergo, who operate the plant" (at least formally). To their credit, IHA passed on no premature propaganda about the Russians having blown it up. UHE, in contrast, seemed better-informed and was clear on this point, having it built into their very first comments, early June 6 on Telegram, citing military sources: "[Operational Command] "South" confirmed the detonation by the occupiers of Kakhovskaya HPP." 

On June 6, UHE's General Director Ihor Syrota declared: "We strongly condemn the terrorist act of the Russian Federation - the blowing up of the Kakhovskaya HPP. ... The hydropower industry is experiencing the most difficult times since the Second World War," he added. The dam could not be restored, but he promised in time "the Kakhovskaya station will definitely be re-built in the same place." Of course, the new dam could only be built once the area was de-occupied. Perhaps ironically, the old dam's destruction seemed to be assisting Ukraine's military in that very cause (see here for example).

From there, UHE would post daily on their website and Telegram channels, documenting the flooding and other effects of Russia's crime, maximizing its scale and importance, and demanding payback. They were on the frontlines of history, to hear them talk, but were sadly unable to stop this Russian plot. They would do their part by calling it out and to toss in some foreshadowing of the supposed plot to destroy the nearby Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP), which the Russians also occupied. UHE would state "By blowing up the Kakhovskaya HPP, the Russian occupiers caused the biggest man-made disaster on our continent since the Chernobyl tragedy.

Within hours, UHE knew where the Russians had set their bomb. They announced June 6 on their website the dam collapsed following on "the explosion of the engine room from the inside." The area of the HPP engine room marked red below, on a mid-collapse drone video, would be somehow destroyed soon after this view. But this story gives no explanation for it remaining intact after the dam's partial collapse (between the white lines) some 20 minutes earlier. 

A later New York Times report would propose that the Russian bombs were set in a tunnel inside the dam where the first collapse happened. This would be reflected in later UHE explanations. June 30: "the Russians were already importing explosives and loading them into the lower tiers of the station." The engine room thing might have been secondary. Maybe they just didn't want to talk about that section of the dam, the one with the initial collapse, and where massive erosion took the deepest hold, near all those known and likely rocket impacts (blue oval above), dating from August to November 2022. 

Damage to the dam from Ukraine's HIMARS rocket attacks was seen in some photos, apparently dating from November and December, but released March 5 as "taken in March," and then re-released on the 25th at Grivna.ua (right: damage near floodgate 3). The latter mentioned no Russian attacks, but noted their military presence as the cause of the damage. The accompanying text has UHE's Syrota seeming to acknowledge but downplay the role of rocket shelling, emphasizing Russian theft and accidents caused by their Orkish negligence: "The Kakhovka HPP was damaged already, I think, eight months ago, when they (the occupiers – ed.) They were engaged in theft of equipment ... Then this led to accidents..." UHE "made an examination of everything damaged," estimating 16.7 billion hryvnias (about $454.6 million US). - the European Court has opened proceedings in this case," he said. Elsewhere, UHE and Syrota blame "Russian shelling" or "enemy air attacks" for damage to their dams totaling about $1 billion US (April 21). Nearly half of that damage is at Kakhovka and most of that was probably done by Ukraine. 

As my last post explained, it was probably not any explosives that collapsed the dam but pre-existing erosion, worsened by the Ukrainian rocket attacks UHE denies, and by overflooding that was directly engineered by UHEOnly increased input from the 5 upstream dams can rapidly rise the levels as happened. As such, Ukrhydoenergo played a key part in this, with major flooding from their dams running April to June. Part 2 related the data end of this, as recorded somewhat by HydroWeb virtual stations, but with quite a few suspicious gaps in the data. See below for some further details and when and how, and how UHE aided the cause with some timely misinformation about the floodgates. 

Much evidence suggests that Ukraine consciously weaponized the Dnieper River against the Russians, with Ukrhydroenergo acting as willing conspirators. The Russsian-affiliated dam managers may have been powerless to stop the assault, thanks to all their equipment being wrecked with the 2022 rocket attacks and likely sabotage. The central question of why the same 4 floodgates were left open for 6 months, feeding the intense erosion, remains open. The gantry cranes that open the gates may have been stopped by Russian design as widely assumed, or by malfunction or from attack damage, or quite likely they just lost power. Some claims from dam employees mention a power switch that was located on the Ukrainian side. The Ukrainians  might have simply switched it off - presumably by UHE or with their knowledge. If so, the Russians probably could not change that situation, as widely assumed. (see part 3 - Four Frontline Floodgates - and see below for how UHE dismissed the possibility of the cranes being disabled.

The heavy and narrowed flow was pulled into the erosion centers and worsened them, already causing a new, swerving flow pattern by January, 2023 as an existing erosion center seems to migrate to join with new damage. It seemingly collapsed an attached roadway on June 1 or 2 before it spread under the dam itself in the final days. UHE helped maintain that flow and made sure the dam was holding a maximum and high-centered water load when it was undermined. 

If anyone did set off some bombs just then, it would be quite a coincidence, precluding any blame on UHE for the fact that the dam was already set to collapse. Otherwise, they collapsed the dam. 

If this had happened on accident or through no effort of theirs, UHE might have noted the situation emerging and done something to correct it. But they seem unaware or willfully ignorant of the danger as they kept adding to it, with a late and rather massive "spring irrigation." They gave a lot of reasons for this in advance, but then carried it way too far in the final 9 weeks with as little comment as possible, as if they hoped no one would notice until well after it was too late. 

UHE and the Fall River Offensive, Winter Interlude

The history of this collapse plot may go back at least 9 months before its culmination. Hydroweb (theia-land.fr) shows water level at Lake Kakhovka back to 2016. The historic trend has the reservoir filled to a minimum of 15.5m and a maximum of 16.5m, with only slight and brief exceptions. Even after the Russians took over management in February, 2022, water levels were maintained within norms until the middle of September. But from then to the end, the level started fluctuating on an ominous scale, just passing the normal range between rapid spikes well below and well above it. 

Here's the first part of that erratic span in detail, with two surges and then the record lows. (with notes, as explained below - normal range in pink). 

First, between readings from September 11 and October 4, the water level rose 0.5m, to just past normal, and rather quickly. A satellite photo of the 18th shows steady discharge from, I think, six floodgates across the middle, being 5, 7, and 9 and 13, 15 and 17. Sentinel Hub's less clear views show no flow on October 3, then heavy flow from the middle in all available views, including Oct. 8, 11, 16, 18, 28, and 31, before the gates are all closed by November 2. As shown above, that's when the level was down to the bottom of normal. 

I'm not sure of the weather then, if heavy rainfall alone might explain this. It might be an early flooding effort, but not a very good one if so. This came after the dam's bypass lock was plugged in early September, but all 28 floodgates on the dam, all 6 at the HPP, and 2 canal pumping stations were functional in September. 

The possible second try would be clearer. Major General Andrey Kovalchuk, head of Ukraine's 2022 Fall offensive in the Kherson area was famously cited in a December, 2022 Washington Post article on The Ukrainian counteroffensive that shocked Putin and reshaped the war (archive.org) Kovalchuk spoke of a Ukrainian "test strike" on the Nova Kakhovka dam to "see if the Dnieper’s water could be raised enough to stymie Russian crossings but not flood nearby villages." Kovalchuk's "test" attack was undated, but said to put three holes in the metal of a floodgate, and to be deemed success. A floodgate was damaged in a November 6 attack, per Russian sources. Floodgate 1 was seen badly damaged by early December, and gate 1 shows otherwise unexplained irregular flow, as if from that damage, by views of November 10 and 12. And so that was Ukraine's "test strike" - floodgate 1 was damaged, probably as said on November 6.

For some reason, there was new "concern" in Kyiv for the dam's wellbeing just then; it was feared that the Russians might try to destroy it soon. UNIAN, Nov. 7: The expert told why it is not profitable for the Russians to blow up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station "If the Kakhovskaya HPP is blown up, Crimea and the positions of the Russians will suffer, a military expert said - Military expert Serhii Grabskyi believes that the Russians should not do this "in view of the healthy sense"..... "But, understanding who we are dealing with," (probably Ukraine in a thin disguise) "such a version cannot be completely ruled out," he clarified." The article adds "Grabski is more inclined to think that statements about the undermining of the hydroelectric power station are a "horror story", an information and psychological attack." It's never clarified who had first made these statements. 

These comments were shared on Telegram by SPRAVDI (Ukraine's Center for Strategic Communications and Information Security). It's as if they were trying to talk the Russians out of blowing up the dam, but the same thoughts might have already talked Ukraine into doing it for them.

Between November 13 and December 2, Hydroweb records show the water level on the Kakhovka reservoir rising even more rapidly than it did in September, at least 0.74m by December 2. For a reservoir this size in 19 days, that's substantial. It might have gotten even higher just before that or just after that reading, but before a net decline that appears by December 10. Starting a week after the floodgates were damaged in a "test" about raising water levels, Ukraine was raising the water level. This came after the lock was plugged, and after the HPP and its 6 gates were disabled by a disputed attack probably on October 24, but before the Khakovsky main canal pumping station was wrecked in disputed shelling on November 30. The Russians had both pumping station and now 27 24 floodgates on the dam (gate 1 could not be opened after the damage, and - Add Aug. 3: then at least gates 26-28 were made inaccessible on the 11th, under the roadway and rails the Russians blew up). It might be a better time to expand on that "test" by raising the water input.

No floodgates at Kakhovka were open on November 12, but likely in response to the rising water, floodgate no. 5 was opened by a video dated the 13th, seemingly in the evening. Then the gantry cranes that open and close gates were moved, opening perhaps gate 3 as well by a satellite view of the 15th and finally 2 or 3 more were opened at some point, for 4 floodgates (3,5,6 & 7) pouring water. That last change might have been in early December, when the rise is suddenly reversed into a decline, about 2/3 as steep as in October (when 6 gates were opened). The north crane was positioned just above gate 8, but never got it opened before the cranes froze. It seems they never moved again until they fell into the river in June. Again, the Ukrainians might have simply switched off power to the cranes and, if so, the Russians probably could not change that situation, as widely assumed. 

Whatever the cause of it, with the constant outflow of those 4 gates, the water level fell much like it did in October, but this time without stopping. Besides high output, there was low input as UHE's dams seemed to hold water back, for whatever reason, storing it through the winter. In April, there were warnings of flooding around the Kyiv HPP that, as Flash News would report April 13, was "a result of the skipping of spring irrigation through the Kyiv HPP." They decided to hold back their usual spring flow, risking local flooding of areas north of the capitol, maybe for some reason, like saving it up for some project. We'll come back to that.

The Russians also syphoned water off Lake Kakhovka to their North Crimean canal and maybe by the "main" canal to largely Russian-held areas like Melitopol. Between all of this, the Kakhovka reservoir fell to record lows slightly below 14m by early February. (at right: a photo that was circulating at the time) 

One effect of this was giving Ukraine a supposed Russian crime to complain about. A February NPR report would relate how "Ukrhydroenergo, Ukraine's hydro electric company believes the discharge is being done deliberately by the Russians," hoping to harm Ukraine with low water levels.  Among the things threatened: local agriculture (mostly in Russian-occupied areas) - the North Crimean canal (and water for the Russians there) - the cooling pond for the ZNPP (Russian-occupied and managed, but in no immediate danger as long as its cooling pond remained full). This comes besides the losses in hypothetical hydropower, if the plant hadn't been disabled by attacks already in the fall (and if the HPP were running, it's not clear where the energy would have gone). 

UHE and Pressure Plans in February

On February 8 UHE informed its followers on Telegram that "International influence is needed to eliminate threats on the Dnieper cascade. " This related an interesting meeting on the theme that occurred two days earlier.

On February 6, an extraordinary meeting of the State Commission on Technogenic and Environmental Safety and Emergencies was held under the chairmanship of Prime Minister of Ukraine Denys Shmyhal. 

The Commission considered a number of important issues, including the state of filling the cascade of the Dnieper reservoirs and possible risks to the water supply of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia and Dnipropetrovsk regions. The participants heard information from the Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, as well as the First Deputy Head of the ZOVA Hennadii Timchenko, other officials on the water level in the Kakhovka reservoir and possible negative consequences in case of its further reduction."

According to the observations of Ukrhydroenergo experts, the large volume of water discharged through the Kakhovskaya HPP is not due to its damage, but to the deliberate actions of the Russian occupiers, who opened the plant's sluices, fearing that the Ukrainian military would forge the Dnieper. 

It was UHE that promised the PM, the president, and the world that the occupiers could close the floodgates or open more, even though they likely could not. The UHE experts claim the gates weren't damaged, which was mostly true. But they didn't mention whether they had power, which they apparently did not have. If Kyiv's answer based on this advice was to send enough water it could withstand more floodgates opening, and then any disaster followed on their failing to do so, UHE assured them it would be the Russians' own fault. From a "Technogenic and Environmental Safety and Emergencies" perspective, it could not be blamed on Ukraine. 

In this regard, the Prime Minister ordered the preparation of informational materials for the President of Ukraine regarding the real situation around the Kakhovskaya HPP and reservoir in order to give it public international publicity. In the current situation, the only real way out of the situation is international pressure on the occupier to force it to close its doors and prevent humanitarian, environmental and nuclear catastrophes from unfolding.' 

In the following days, that NPR article for one (Feb. 10), told the outside world about "the real situation," aided by Ukraine/NAFO meteorology ally David Helms. Everyone was worried about the falling water level at Lake Kakhovka, due to the Russians willfully keeping so many floodgates wide open. Kyiv had raised international public pressure on the occupiers.

With this public backing and those assurances, Kyiv also pursued a more direct, national, and secret policy of water pressure to go with that. They had extra water stored up behind the 5 Ukrainian-controlled dams in the "Dnieper Cascade" and, as part 2 outlined, they had these send all the water they could into Lake Kakhovka, along with extra-heavy rain in April. This would be overseen by UHE, and all of the water had to pass in shifts through at least the final dam at the Dnipro HPP, next to Zaporizhzhia, which would handle the direct injections all the way. 

Interestingly, it was just then - Feb. 9 or 10 - that the same Dnipro HPP was damaged in an attack, as reported by a few pro-Russian sources at the time, and some pro-Ukrainian ones a bit later. See my Twitter thread and note there's probably more to learn, but it was so hard to find I put that off. A BBC report, for one, mentioned a February attack (undated) and also an earlier attack in December. For no obvious reason, the UHE website and Telegram channel make no mention of either of these or any attacks, that I could locate, until President Zelensky visited on March 27, when photos and video of damage were published: "the consequences of Russian missile attacks on the Dnipro hydroelectric power station, in particular, they inspected the building and power equipment, which suffered significant destruction." (UHE on Telegram). That video and another and some photos I found (link... - one at right) show severe damage to the southwest corner of HES-1, with smoke still rising from the rubble, as if it were from a new attack in late March, a third attack to go pretty much unreported.  

The direction of fire is unclear to me, but the damage suggests it's from the left/north (Ukraine) or the right/south (Russia) - not from east or west. I think from the north is better suggested, but that's not certain, and the logic of either side doing this raises questions. In brief:

The February attack could give a quiet impression that Russia wanted low water so badly they attacked the one dam that might slake their thirst. The proper response would be to spite the Russians by finally sending more water, as they may have already planned to do. Maybe the Russians sensed the flooding plot to come, and this was their way of warning that off, but it sadly backfired. Did they provoke a counterattack here? 

Or did Kyiv provoke their own plan on Russia's behalf? They might have adequate motive in December or February, and more so in late March. It might sound bizarre, but consider if they were engaged in a plot to destroy a dam, they might risk some repairable damage to another dam, if that served some purpose as a trigger. You would think they'd make more public noise about a false-flag attack, or about a real attack, for that matter. But maybe the revenge was too secret to draw attention to by even addressing this provocation openly. It might be for "internal consumption." For example, dam operators might be angry, and willing to play along with a flooding plot as some kind of revenge. And that might apply especially if this worst attack were in late March, to "justify" the reckless flooding of April and May (see below). 

Dnipro HPP outflow as seen in satellite views from Sentinel Hub EO Browser (sentinel-hub.com): outflow from the two power stations here, HES-1 and HES-2, is often hard to make out or easy to make up. But it seems several gates on the east end of HES-1 show a high output rarely seen last year. It starts early, by first views in January, continues on 2/5, and the same width but seemingly stronger on 2/20, and continuing 3/2 and forward. But on the receiving end, Lake Kakhovka clearly starts rising after Feb. 10, or right after that alleged attack at Dnipro, so their output probably increased around then. 

It's not clear why, but two days later, on February 12, video was posted of Ukrainian drone attacks destroying cameras at Kakhovka HPP, Everyone there could see the new attack anyway, as the water started pouring in. At first, it would look like a good thing in the parched circumstances, but that would change.

UHE and the Spring River Offensive

With the winter thaw, and perhaps two months of held-back water, the northern reservoirs had unusually high levels in the early spring, ahead of unusually heavy rains in late April. Lake Kremenkutska is the other big reservoir in the Dnieper cascade, well north of Kakhovka. Each lake usually held nearly half the water in the system. See in Hydroweb's water volume log how Kremenchutska prepared for the heavy mid-April rains - it filled massively over February and March with little output, it seems, rising from 0.5 to 3.5-3.7 cubic kilometers. 

It did much the same in years before, but not this quickly and not this early. This might invite disaster once the heavy April rains came in. The level seems to hold steady even then, so a lot must have been shed, and several entries are missing (see lack of dots on those straight lines between mid-April and mid-June). 

Multiple floodgates are seen pouring in Sentinel Hub views from April 24 to May 4, so for at least that span. April 29 view at right.  

As noted, Kyiv HPP to the north was holding winter melt until mid-April before it shed some and helped maintain that high level at Kremenchutska. Flash News would report April 13: "In Kyiv, the Dnipro may overflow its banks. The first level of danger has been declared, the Ukrhydrometeorological Center reported. "As a result of the skipping of spring irrigation through the Kyiv HPP, the water level of the Dnipro River in Kyiv and Boryspil district of the Kyiv region may reach dangerous levels of the initial flooding of areas adjacent to the riverbed," the message says." On April 15-18 photos appeared of flooding around the capitol. https://twitter.com/Geoff_WarNews/status/1647232587906072576 -- https://twitter.com/suspilne_news/status/1648348339019063296

This state would continue a few days, then rapidly subside, with a 10cm drop reported by Flash News in one day (4/20 vs. 4/19). Sentinel Hub views show a new heavy flow from open floodgates at Kyiv HPP on April 22 and 25, new since an April 7 view, and quiet again by May 2. (see below) This was sent to the Kaniv reservoir and then passed (4/17 view below with several gates open) into Lake Kremenchutska. There it would replace the excess water just sent on, and this new excess would be sent on in the same way. 

Wider flood situations at other reservoirs on the Dnieper were reported in April and May, largely by pro-Russian sources and generally denied by UHE and Ukrainian ones. At several points, it seems disaster was invited, briefly accepted, and then sent downstream in shifts to correct and then drastically over-correct the engineered shortage at Kakhovka. It all seemed to make complete sense, up to a point.

In part 2 - Did Ukraine Break the Dnipro River and the Nova Kakhovka Dam? - , I documented the overall decline on the upper Dnieper as Kakhovka was forcibly filled, via Hydroweb virtual stations that recorded a net drop at several points, usually around 20cm, between late March and late May. Widespread missing entries make it unusually hard to track in detail, but the big picture is clear enough - water was stored up and then rapidly shed to flood Kakhovka all spring. The rest of this post adds some to that picture.

After Kyiv, Kaniv, and Kremenchutska, water was sent to Kamianske HPP and then Dnipro HPP (see reference map below), There it would replace a new outpour that began by early April, in turn answering the suction of a dried-up Lake Kakhovka. And so excess water was on Kyiv's streets in mid-April, then shunted down probably to Kakhovka in time to assist in the dam collapse there 6 weeks later.

As the water level there remained low but steady in late March, UHE and its general director Ihor Syrota kept playing up the danger of a new Russian drawdown, sowing public reasons why increasing the flow to Kakhovka might be a good idea. On March 24, uhe.gov.ua and UHE on Telegram announced:  "Since the middle of February, the issue of the threat of the Russians draining the Kakhovsky Reservoir has become acute." This sounds like it's gotten worse, but the levels were improving exactly since mid-February. Syrota is again quoted: "The manipulations of the Russians with the gates of the Kakhovskaya HPP have no logical explanation." Again, my best guess is Ukraine turned off the power to the cranes, hoping to maximize the ensuing erosion. I doubt they have any better reason to suspect the Russians were intentionally - and illogically - keeping the same 4 gates open for months on end, when their final plan was to blow the thing up with bombs. 

The same message cited a Syrota interview with "BBC journalists" to say that "Ukrhydroenergo hopes that it will be possible to maintain this reservoir level by June." 

On March 27 Syrota again spoke to the media. As Reuters reported, he "voiced concern about what would happen if water levels fell further at the Kakhovka reservoir ... The level has fallen because Russian troops ... have let some water out through sluice gates, he said." After speaking as if the levels were still declining, "Syrota said the level had risen since then thanks to the winter thaw" and to UHE's dams passing some of that along, in part to just be wasted out those 4 open floodgates: "They (the Russians) are discharging a certain volume and we have raised the level to 14.30 metres from 13.50-13.60 metres. But still the gates (of the dam) are open," Syrota said. 

"We have raised the levels," he says, and UHE "hopes that it will be possible to maintain this reservoir level by June." They wanted to keep a high input to Kakhovka, hoping to outpace the Russians' floodgates. Those never did vary their pace, but it seems UHE always anticipated they would, and chronically pre-corrected for it. It would be a massive task, but they made it look easy, outpacing the steady outflow and "maintaining" the level all to heck by early June. That "hope" seemingly guided their efforts in between. 

UHE never mentioned any danger of OVER-filling the reservoir. It's as if the idea had never occurred to them. And so, perhaps without noticing, through April and May they raised the level at Lake Kakhovka further and further, to the normal range and well past it, until the reservoir was 100% full by early May. 

UHE boasted on April 19, even as peak rains were expected on the 22nd, "As of April 19, the water supply situation has stabilized. Now the flood is receding. #Ukrhydroenergo hydroelectric power stations on the #Dnipro and #Dniester regulate [water] levels, avoid flooding, and continue controlling discharges in compliance with safety standards." 

This is also about when the video appeared of Dnipro HPP pouring water, which some would later say was filmed AFTER the dam's collapse in June. Twitter user Aurora Borealis would post this on 4/19, explaining "For the first time in several decades, 4 floodgates were opened at the #Zaporizhzhia HPP to release water and save the central Ukraine from flooding." The video shows water pouring from at least 4 floodgates and perhaps more. It pans to show the river full of foam, with the outflow from HES-1 visible on the right, also sending water downstream. HES-2 across the way might be doing the same. 

This marks a major escalation in the river offensive. It didn't start on the 19th, but earlier. Sentinel Hub EO Browser views show this flood of perhaps more than 4 gates by April 16. That's after no views since March 27, when it seems no gates were open (see below). It's on March 29 that a new level is quickly achieved at Kakhovka, then between April 2 and 9 it increases a bit in speed, holding that pace for about a month. So that's probably when Dnipro was first opened like this - maybe 2 gates around March 28/29, then more in early April. Recall as noted above there may have been a new attack on HES-1 around March 26. Did an attack precede this outpour, like may have happened in February? 

The floodgates were pouring some three weeks before that video, and Lake Kakhovka would pass the normal range to a dangerous level a few days after it. This was done "in compliance with safety standards," of course, and "to save the central Ukraine from flooding" but it would prove terribly unsafe and cause severe flooding in the Russian-occupied south a few weeks later.

On April 20, UHE board member Stephen Laird Walsh visited Dnipro HPP in an army helmet, in light of the recent, little-noted attack(s) in December, February, and/or late March. He posed frowning with a weapon remnant, and smiling in front of the UHE-controlled floodgates pouring away.  He's seen bemoaning one attack weapon, and blissfully unaware of the other one raging behind him. 

Sentinel Hub views show this flow continuing to at least April 26, but it's done by May 6, and these floodgates seem to stay off thereafter. The Kakhovka reservoir records being 100% full by May 8, but by the speed of rise to the last reading on 4/28, it would be full around May 2, The major flooding lasted about one month.  A light output from the two HPPS, HES-1 and HES-2 seems to continue that whole time and remain after, seen running on 5/6, and in all clear views: May 16 and 21, and even on June 5. This smaller input must have roughly matched the outflow from Kakhovka, as the level was maintained that whole month to collapse. 

After the collapse, HPP output seems to continue, and it looks kind of like one dam sluice gate on the east end was opened AFTER the collapse, as seen on 6/20 to now (7/30), but "pouring" just the same in every view except for getting a bit bigger - it's more of the riverbed exposed after the reservoir drained away, where some trees were often visible alongside HES-2 - a sort of natural divider there. So FWIW, I see no sign of serious flooding after the collapse, and there is no great reason for it - the military probably wanted the reservoir gone and then dried up, not endlessly flooding. They would want Russian defenses washed away in a flood, not left underwater forever.

Now for the story in data. Below is the record on the receiving end of this over-zealous "flood-prevention" work that caused one of the greatest modern floods: Lake Kakhovka water level from Hydroweb, February to June, with notes. 

Note that 4 floodgates keep pouring from the reservoir - at the same rate, barring pressure difference - this entire time. What changes is mainly how input matches and then exceeds that output, and keeps exceeding it. The maximum possible level was reached before May 8. Input didn't stop then but lessened, keeping a rough parity through May, with a tendency to decline - so input remained a bit less than what the 4 gates released. There was a slight decrease by May 10, and that was held to May 20. Then a mystery refill was recorded the 21st, possibly from increased input. That's corrected by the 25th, and we see a slight improvement to maybe 99% full just before the end. Despite the variations, in all views of May 11, 29, June 1, 2 and 5, the dam is overtopping - full to the brim and splashing over. Somehow, even higher levels than this can be measured somewhere on the reservoir.

Note the input isn't completely heedless or blind. The people at Dnipro dam knew when the reservoir was at 100% full and chose then to decrease their input so as to just maintain that level. This shows awareness of the situation and responsiveness to it. So why was the response generally so imbalanced, so grossly at odds with professional safety standards? 

At right is a map of all dams and falling vs. rising levels at Hydroweb virtual stations, from part 2. Adding here from a look at Sentinel Hub views for the other dams: between cloudy and blank days, there are some good views for each facility. With one example link each, and going north-to-south, all the usable views show:  
- Kyiv HPP: quiet 4/7, some floodgates pouring 4/22, 4/25, quiet 5/2, unclear on other days
- Kaniv HPP: quiet 4/7, pouring from 3 floodgates on 4/17, 2 gates 4/22, prob. 4/24 (just off-frame), and on May 2. unclear May 4, 7 & 9, but quiet by May 12.
- Kremenchuk HPP: - no good April views until solid output seen 4/24 between the clouds, and clearly on 4/29 and 5/4, seemingly 2+ floodgates open, then quiet by May 9.
- Kamianske HPP: solid output from most of the gates on 4/19 view, perhaps less gates on 4/24, 4/26,  quiet again 5/6
- Dnipro HPPs: as mentioned, heavy floodgate pouring seen 4/16, 4/26, and done by May 6 - probably running late March to early May, with the HPPs sending water the whole time from January to June and after. 

Extra-Quiet for the Final Stretch

From the Dnipro floodgates opening to the Kakhovka dam bursting is approximately nine weeks of what almost has to be a deliberate flooding effort. This came after the dam's lock was plugged, after the HPP and its 6 gates were disabled, after the Khakovsky main canal pumping station was wrecked, after the North Crimean canal had all its reservoirs filled, limiting its usefulness, after floodgate 1 was damaged, and after the gantry cranes were disabled, allowing no change in the floodgates. They had the four frontline floodgates trying to relieve the pressure and, most likely, little else that could be done. They boasted of getting one HPP floodgate open in early May, and the visual record might suggest increased flow just then, but it somehow stops again within a few days. (see part 3) It was in that badly plugged and unmanageable situation that UHE's input outpaced Kakhovka's output so massively they filled the reservoir to 100% and then kept it close to that for a month.  

Allied sources unwittingly drew attention to some important effects of UHE's unorthodox river management, which the company itself seemed to ignore. Of course they tried to blame it on Russia. 

NYT, May 17, complaining of the dangerously high water level: "It is unclear exactly how the water level rose so significantly since then. But David Helms, a former U.S. Air Force and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration meteorologist who researches the dam, said that Russian forces seem to have kept too few gates open to control the flow of winter snowmelt and spring rains. Likening the effect to a leaky bucket, Mr. Helms said that too much water has been entering the reservoir. “What the river is doing is dumping a lot of water in,” Mr. Helms said. “And it’s far exceeding the discharge rate.”

Helms makes no sense. He was just complaining the Russians left too many gates open, and now he says it's too few. Leaky buckets let too much water out, the opposite of the supposed problem. And the river "dumping a lot of water in" was controlled by Ukraine, so Ukraine was dumping in far too much water. There is no way the Russian managers could stop the input from Dnipro HPP, and they likely could not open any more floodgates. 

Pro-Kyiv Nova Kakhovka news on April 28 shared a drone video of "spontaneous discharge of water due to damage to the Kakhovskaya HPP," mentioning "the high level of water in the reservoir and its powerful discharge in places of destruction." Note the divider between the dam and HPP outlets had its end crack free and settle at an angle, evidencing serious erosion near the dam. The Russians were pouring way too much water, and also not pouring nearly enough water. The reporters don't seem to care why that has become possible.

The same Nova Kakhovka news would show another video on May 16:  "The video taken on May 11, 2023 shows that powerful streams of water are flowing uncontrollably through the open and partially destroyed by the occupiers locks [floodgates] of the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric power plant. The increased water level in the Dnieper River and the flooded coast in Nova Kakhovka can also be seen, ... as a result, the positions of the occupiers were flooded." Again they note the reservoir is full, even fuller now and clearly overtopping, despite pouring "uncontrollably" to disastrous effect, for the occupiers, whose fault it somehow was.  

The high level and heavy output coexisting means the dam was sorely overloaded and unmanageable, especially under the battered circumstances. To the extent the outside world saw this problem, it seemed like something mysterious and probably Russian was to blame. But Ukraine's dam operators were keeping the pressure on, heedlessly or otherwise. 

UHE was the agency making this happen, but they had nothing to publicly say about it, to acknowledge or deny it, let alone explain why. They had nothing new to say about this dam, aside from blaming Russia for all the existing damage and hitting them with the bill for it, and nothing about Lake Kakhovka, except to note in late May that it was the one reservoir they had no comment on. All Telegram entries from these days wherein UHE even mentions the endangered dam:

Telegram, 3/28 Ihor Syrota: "We need significant funds to restore our facilities that were destroyed or damaged as a result of enemy air attacks ... The Russian occupiers caused 16.7 billion hryvnias worth of damage to the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station alone." The Russians caused damage not just with theft and negligence but also with "air attacks?" Or is that just tacked on? Is their actual bookkeeping on this any clearer?

Telegram 3/30: "On this day, March 30, 1952, a historic event took place at the construction site of Kakhovskaya HPP - the first cubic meter of concrete was placed in the construction of the hydraulic unit!" On the 71st anniversary of that day, UHE was beginning or about to begin the lethal overflooding of Lake Kakhovka that would tear much of the dam away, but that first cubic meter might have remained.

On April 21 UHE said "We estimated the company's direct losses, including due to the occupation of the Kakhovskaya HPP, at approximately 1 billion dollars." May 17: "special attention is paid to the issue of restoration of the Kakhovskaya HPP after de-occupation." They had raised the water level to 100% full a week or two earlier, and would seemingly add more around May 21, to help keep Lake Kakhovka full until the dam collapsed. In this way they may have destroyed the dam before they could collect the money to restore it. 

On May 29 UHE would mention NK and its reservoir one last time before the collapse, announcing  "the decline in water levels continues ... As a result of water harvesting through the reservoirs of the Dnieper Cascade, fluctuations in water levels were observed within the range of 1-10 cm per day, with a predominance of subsidence. The volume of water in the cascade of the Dnipro reservoirs as of May 28 was equal to 47,616 cubic km, which is 3,768 cubic km higher than the volume of reservoirs at the normal support level (NPR), without taking into account the Kakhovsky reservoir, the volume of water in the cascade is equal to 27,116 cubic km .km (by 1,458 cubic km exceeds the volume of reservoirs at the NPR)."

Why were they not "taking into account the Kakhovsky reservoir," at least when speaking to the public? They had "raised the level" since March, "maintained" and even exceeded that level greatly, here at the cusp of June. Isn't that what they had promised? Don't they want to take credit for all their hard and well-organized work countering the Russian's drawdown plot, and doing it all while balancing upstream needs, as they boasted of rapidly falling levels at all of their reservoirs? 

On June 1, as mentioned, UHE joined the International Hydropower Association (IHA), and then the roadway collapsed from UHE's erosion, probably accelerating it greatly. The final days saw more proud statements on their management of the river - aside from its final stretch, which they no longer mentioned. June 2: "There is a decrease in the flow of water along the rivers. Water levels in the reservoirs of the Dnipro Cascade continue to decrease." Well, not at ALL of them. Mid-day on June 5 they would repeat this"As of June 5, the water level continues to decrease. Hydroelectric power plants carry out the passage of spring irrigation on the Dnieper Cascade through hydro units." 

As of June 5, they continued to pour water from reservoirs in no danger on downstream, perhaps right into Lake Kakhovka, where the danger was so real it was about to become actual disaster. Its level hadn't risen in a month because it couldn't - it had been 100% full, despite still pouring from 4 gates AND overtopping. Erosion was taking down structures increasingly attached to the dam. At this point, collapse was all but certain in a matter of hours to days. 


If anyone did set off some bombs just then so the dam never did collapse on its own, it would be quite a coincidence. And if it was a Russian plot to store all that water and then blow the dam and cause maximum destruction - primarily of their own defenses and occupied villages and fields - why were UHE's dams still carrying out "passage of spring irrigation," helping that plot by sending them so much water right up to the end? 

"Russia's plot" was probably Ukraine's plot and thus UHE's. They were quite likely assisting the Ukrainian military to collapse the dam and re-shape the battlefield to Kyiv's advantage. It's why they knew not to talk about the situation as they helped engineer it.

It's not quite Chernobyl 2.0, but Ukhrhydroenergo was instrumental in this disaster. Through criminal conspiracy or a massive and probably criminal type of negligence, they caused the deaths of dozens to perhaps 100+ civilians, displaced tens of thousands, caused a wide-ranging "ecocide," contaminated water supplies, wrecked huge swathes of important crops, threatened disease outbreaks, destroyed hydropower potential, endangered a nuclear plant, and more. All the stuff they eagerly blamed on Russia was largely the result of UHE's own misguided actions. 

It's the kind of crime there should be a price to pay for. But it's also a crime that's very difficult to fix an Earthly price for, and one that assisted in the grand Western strategy of bleeding Russia, This calls for dealing Russia blows and devastation everywhere, and trying to hit them with the blame and the bill for all of it. So from the NYT to NPR and through any investigations by Western-controlled or compromised bodies, the Western-led "global community" will try to push this through on that same script, or at least prevent the truth from coming to light.