Ukraine’s national hydropower company is preparing legal action against Russia over attacks on its facilities, including the destruction of a major Dnipro River dam that caused catastrophic flooding and killed hundreds.
Ukrhydroenergo said it has started working with two law firms on preparing court and arbitration cases against Russia, which it claims has launched “targeted attacks on its infrastructure and assets” more than 50 times since the start of the war.
This is claimed to have taken offline 2.5GW of Ukraine’s 6.3GW of hydropower capacity, which had previously supplied 10% of the country’s electricity.
The attacks include the destruction last year of the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River, which caused catastrophic flooding downstream over hundreds of square kilometres of territory.
The Kakhovka dam, which was 30 meters high and had a road running along the top of its two-kilometre length, boasted a hydroelectric plant that could produce 357MW of power before the attack in June.
Russia had control over the dam when a massive breach occurred, thought to be caused by explosives within the structure.
Russia argues it was Ukraine that destroyed the dam to starve territories under Russian control from the freshwater it helps produce.
Ukraine claims Russia blew up the dam to stymie a counteroffensive it launched last year as the massive flooding made it much harder to cross the Dnipro River and take back land Russia holds.
An Associated Press investigation recently found that Russia had vastly undercounted deaths caused by the flooding, with hundreds now believed to have been killed.
Six dams were built on the Dnipro river in Ukraine during the Soviet era and each contains a hydroelectric power plant.
Ukraine has accused Russia, which has launched widespread strikes on its energy infrastructure since invading in 2022, of targeting several of the other dams. Russia has in some instances blamed Ukraine for attacks.
Ukraine’s state-owned nuclear company Energoatom is planning a similar legal action against Russia over the seizure of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and other facilities in occupied territories.
Many Ukrainian state-owned and private companies have brought claims against Russia under a bilateral investment treaty between the countries that allows for cases to be decided by an independent international arbitration tribunal.
But while companies can and have won hefty damages awards, Russia has never willingly paid sums due. This leaves companies with a tortuous process of trying to enforce awards in national courts to try and seize Russian assets. A long list of Russian creditors has to date had vanishingly little success in that regard.