Ukraine claimed Russia blew up the Nova Kakhovka dam and said it was a war crime, while Russia has said that it was Ukraine who "sabotaged the dam, to distract attention from the launch of a major counteroffensive Moscow says is faltering," Reuters reports.
Ukraine's counter offensive has been in the works for some time, specifically targeting the Russian-held city of Kherson, and was just recently launched.
"Russian terrorists," President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Telegram. "The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam only confirms for the whole world that they must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land."
However, the Washington Post reported in December 2022 that Ukraine had previously carried out a test strike using American HIMARS (High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems) on a dam located on the Russian-held side of Ukraine along the Dnieper River in Kahovka. They cited Ukrainian Major-General Andriy Kovalchuk.
"Kovalchuk considered flooding the river," the Washington Post reported. "The Ukrainians, he said, even conducted a test strike with a HIMARS launcher on one of the floodgates at the Nova Kakhovka dam, making three holes in the metal to see if the Dnieper’s water could be raised enough to stymie Russian crossings but not flood nearby villages. The test was a success, Kovalchuk said, but the step remained a last resort."
After the dam broke, the Ukrainian-held portion of Kherson was submerged and residents had to evacuate. Residents had to leave their towns and villages behind. On the Russian-controlled side, the local mayor of Nova Kakhovka, installed after Russian forces took over the area, said the water had risen some 36 feet.
There are now fears of a potential humanitarian disaster. It was called "an outrageous act, which demonstrates once again the brutality of Russia's war in Ukraine" by NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
A Kremlin spokesperson said, "Apparently, this sabotage is also connected with the fact that having started large-scale offensive actions two days ago, now the Ukrainian armed forces are not achieving their goals."
$75 billion in support for Ukraine, which includes financial, humanitarian, and military assistance. It is unclear how the US will respond, given that it could now be perceived that the US is actively supporting and training troops sympathetic to Nazi ideologies.