Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s office revealed the culprits behind the attack on a major dam in Ukraine on Tuesday which has forced the evacuation of thousands of residents. The brigade in question is known for its involvement in the initial Chechen conflict and its slogan remains unchanged: “205th Brigade, we will return even from hell.”
Mykhailo Podoliak, advisor to the head of the President’s Office, said in national newscast: “Our intelligence has already provided data on which Russian military unit did this – the 205th Motor Rifle [Brigade].”
According to Ukrainska Pravda, representatives of the 205th Separate Cossack Motor Rifle Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces have long been based at the Kakhovka HPP.
Presently, its composition predominantly comprises conscripts hailing from different regions of Russia.
The leader of the 205th Brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Eduard Shandura, is a 40-year-old officer.
As per previously disclosed details by Ukrainian intelligence, he was redeployed from active missions to participate in a parade held in the war-ravaged city of Mariupol in May 2022. Last fall, certain Ukrainian Telegram channels disseminated unverified reports regarding the purported demise of Shandura in Kherson Oblast.
Russian officials blamed Ukrainian bombardment in the contested area, where the river separates the two sides.
Residents sloshed through knee-deep waters in their inundated homes as videos posted on social media showed rescue workers carrying people to safety and an aerial video of waters filling the streets of Russian-controlled Nova Kakhovska on the eastern side of the river.
READ MORE: Urgent evacuation begins of thousands of people after Ukraine dam explosion
In Ukrainian-controlled areas on the western side, Oleksandr Prokudin, the head of Kherson Regional Military administration, said in a video that water levels were expected to rise by another meter (about 3 feet) over the next 20 hours.
“The intensity of floods is slightly decreasing; however, due to the significant destruction of the dam, the water will keep coming,” he said.
Britain’s Ministry of Defence, which has regularly issued updates about the war, said the Kakhovka reservoir was at “record high” water levels before the breach. While the dam wasn’t entirely washed away, the ministry warned that its structure “is likely to deteriorate further over the next few days, causing additional flooding.”
Together with the power station, the dam helps provide electricity, irrigation and drinking water to a wide swath of southern Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
Government and UN officials have warned of a human and ecological disaster whose repercussions will take days to assess and far longer to recover from.
The dam break, which both sides long feared, added a new dimension to Russia’s war, now in its 16th month. Ukrainian forces were widely seen to be moving forward with a long-anticipated counteroffensive in patches along more than 1,000 kilometres (621 miles) of front line in the east and south.