Analysis of the News “The key evidence of Ukrainian guilt for the demolition of HPP Kahovka? Satellite images revealed everything”

June 2023

As part of the Regional Initiative in Combating Disinformation “Western Balkans Anti-Disinformation Hub: Exposing Malign Influences through Watchdog Journalism”, we present you a new analysis of fake news and disinformation narratives.

The key evidence of Ukrainian guilt for the demolition of HPP Kahovka? Satellite images revealed everything

In the night between June 5 and 6, the Kahovka Dam and hydroelectric power plant was blown up. As early as the morning after the attack, speculation began as to who was responsible for the attack. The first wave of Russian information about the attack began with reports that the dam no longer existed as a result of the Ukrainian attack. Such information was also spread by the version of the Russian portal Russia Today (RT).

First, an article with the title “Who destroyed the Kahovka HPP: “If it blew up the dam, Russia would shoot itself in the foot””, was published, in which RT refers to the findings of the Washington Post about how Kiev plans to destroy the hydroelectric plant.

“According to the old and well-tested recipe, the West is pointing its finger at Russia for the destruction of the Nova Kahovka dam, and that at a time when Ukrainian forces, according to Russian officials, continue shelling the hydroelectric power plant on the Dnieper,” writes Russia Today.

The text goes on to claim that it is not up to Russia to demolish this dam, but that it is solely to the advantage of the Ukrainian side. “To all those who know the conditions and configuration of the terrain in that region, it is clear that Russia has no benefit from shelling this hydroelectric plant.”

For this claim, RT refers to the statement of “American military analyst of Ukrainian origin” Michael Kofman, who told the Washington Post last year that if the dam were to be destroyed, “Russia would essentially be shooting itself in the foot.” That would flood the part of Kherson that is under Russian control much more than the western part that the Ukrainians will probably liberate”.

In the text in which RT reports, the “key evidence” that the Ukrainian side is behind the attack are satellite images that “show that Ukraine artificially raised the water level in the reservoir to the highest level in the last eight years just before the dam was destroyed.”

RT shows no evidence for such satellite images, except for a Tweet published on a profile signed as KimDotcom, behind Kim Schmitz, who was arrested by the US authorities in 2012 in New Zealand for organized crime on the Internet. Thanks to Internet piracy, Schmitz collected more than 175 million dollars through the website. In recent years, the Twitter profile he maintains has often served to spread conspiracy theories.

The texts of the Russia Today portal, in addition to conveying unverified facts that Ukrainians are behind the demolition of the dam, also contain numerous contradictions. One of them is how it is possible that the Ukrainians artificially raised the water level in the territory that was under the control of Russia.

According to research by the American newspaper New York Times, the Kahovka dam in Ukraine is designed to withstand any attack from the outside. However, the paper states that despite both sides denying involvement in the explosion, evidence suggests that only Russia can be blamed for the disaster.

“Before the incident, the dam was visibly damaged in months of fighting. Ukrainian strikes damaged another section of road that goes over the dam, and retreating Russian troops later blew up another. “Last month, satellite images showed water flowing uncontrollably in several places,” the New York Times wrote, adding that this led to suggestions that the dam may have simply been a “victim” of accumulated damage, which Russia used to deflect responsibility.

Author: Sofija Popović