Did the Russians deliberately blow up the Nova Kakhovka dam? (Resolves NO if it was negligence rather than sabotage)

This market is specifically asking whether the Russians deliberately blew up / sabotaged the dam vs whether it was merely negligence on their part.

One caveat to the above: the question is ultimately about intention. If it becomes known with confidence that the Russians deliberately neglected to maintain the dam with intention that it should fail, then I would resolve YES. But the presumption would be against this if it failed through lack of maintenance rather than active sabotage.

To be resolved by the consensus of American sources. I may choose to resolve to Market if there is some ambiguity and the market price seems basically reasonable and not manipulated or an artifact of poor liquidity, but if not, or if it seems pretty clear cut to me, then I'll resolve to my own best judgement of the consensus of trustworthy American sources, including both government sources and news media.

I will probably continue to delay the closing of this market until some consensus emerges and either way will probably wait several months at the minimum unless the evidence is especially clear cut.

See also




Update: if it was anything else (eg Ukraine destroyed the dam) this market would also resolve NO, but see my other market if you think that is the case.

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predicts NO

@KongoLandwalker I'll try not forget to check this bit of evidence. I am busy in the next few days, but feel free to ping me in 5-7 days.

predicts NO


I've just checked NORSAR data was covered in CIT sitreps. Here are the screenshots and the links.

The chart from your link is around 2:55 AM. Whereas we have evidence that the dam was already destroyed at 2:46 AM. Seismic waves travel at 4-6 km/s from what I googled, so there should be plenty of time for the waves to arrive to the station.

They do mention earlier data at 2:36 am but somehow they don't show it. Even given that, CIT's sitrep indicate that there were local reports from mines being carried away bt flooding at a bit later than 2 AM.

There are additional concerns about quality of the data — check out the quote on screenshots.



predicts NO

@42irrationalist The fact that we have the picture with the left side destroyed and the right side instact should be enough. The entire theory of the blowing up is about blowing it from inside the station, how can the station be intact when the normal part of the dam is broken through?

predicts YES

@WieDan i did not understand your argument.

predicts NO

@KongoLandwalker The main argument for saying that it was blown up by the Russians is that it couldn't have been exploded from the outside, and it couldn't have eroded, because it was so extremely strong; therefore it was blown up from inside the generator hall. However we can see on the picture that this cannot be true since that side is still standing while the part next to it has broken through.

predicts NO

The right side here is the part that generates power, it has an inside chamber with a generator. The left side is just a big wall that stops water, and has sluice gates to let excess water flow through. (if operated correctly anyway)

predicts YES

@WieDan i don't know the position of the underground hollows and thus your explanation is not enough. Also i can easily imagine structural damage causing fractures which lead to failure hours later.

The main arguements were seismic data and american spy satellites reportedly seeing aftermath of an explosion. I think they mean higher local concentration of SO2. So I am personally waiting for more information from those two, because seismic data was not published raw to be checked and satellite imagery is also kept secret.

I do think erosion is a possible scenario, but for me it is 25%. That is because I have listened to russian media propaganda and i was convinced they were preparing listeners for some kind of disaster. And at the same time Ukrainian side was making specific claims about intelligence saying about russians preparing explosion on the dam.

predicts YES

@KongoLandwalker There likely was no explosion at Nova-Kakhovka Dam and the dam was destroyed due to negligence. Here is an explanation by Conflict Intelligence Team, a pro-Ukrainian OSINT organization originating in Russia (currently labeled "undesirable" organization by the Russian government, their members have multiple "criminal" cases going on against them in Russia):




Sadly, I don't see American journalists putting together a timeline like CIT — thus at this point we are not betting on what happened but on what American sources converge to. I think sadly it's going the way "COVID-19 lab leak is racist" went — otherwise I'd bet this market to much lower than it's current probability, probably around 20%.

predicts YES

@42irrationalist would mines carried by the stream cause enough heat to be visible by infrared-band satellites? This is not explained to me. I had intuition that not.

predicts NO

@KongoLandwalker Do we actually have these photos to examine or are these "secret american satellites"? I remember there were quite a bit of discussion focused on satellite images by secret satellites and no one in public had actually saw these.

predicts YES

@42irrationalist I tried to find, but did not. Then i tried to find the images myself with satellite playground and make filter for SO2, but sentinel-1 passed 30km to the west from the point of interest, and all other available satellites had either bad resolution, or some other problem. (For example on sentinel-3 for some weird reason the same imagery is published for 2 different passes).

So your position is "images likely don't exist"? I think they are not published to keep altitude and resolution currently secret.

predicts YES

@42irrationalist honestly, that is completely reasonable that cit ignores the data it cannot check. It's aim is to form their independent research. Within the info they don't ignore their conclusion is logical.

I, on the other hand, don't have time to check everything so i operate with "reputation" (reputation=probability the entity is not lying, extrapolating previous public statements). So the fact that i don't see images does not reduce my confidence (most time of my life I operate in not full info, so that is completely normal), but the act of lies from US representatives about Ru-Ukr war crimes would do so.

predicts NO


So your position is "images likely don't exist"?

Public images don't exist so we can't verify the claims. I personally believe that the US government probably have the right satellite image (they seem to claim so, right?). But we can't verify the following thing:

  1. What else this signature is consistent with?

  2. If it's only consistent with an explosion, is the explosion strong enough to destroy the dam?

  3. What is the precise time and location of this supposed explosion?

  4. How does it fit with the rest of the timeline which does not seem consistent with explosion (see CIT version)

For me to even consider updating on these claims it's important to have answers to these questions. Otherwise it's just saying "trust me bro" and not really evidence. A piece of evidence is supposed to add something to the overall puzzle and let us rule out something.

CIT does consider claims of officials in their work — as far as I can tell from watching their sitrep videos on youtube. They definitely don't ignore them, but they do cross-check them. Them not taking into account the claims about private satellite images of American government is based on (as far as I can tell) similar concerns as mine. Basically they build a mental model of what happened and pieced together a timeline of events before and after the dam destruction. Their mental model is like an actual functioning mechanism. You can place new gears to that mechanism (thus changing it) by adding more evidence but you can't just throw a new gear inside — that's not how mechanisms work.

As for reputation of the American government. I am not an American so my view is probably pretty different from yours. But like — Project MKULTRA? Weapons of Mass Destruction in Iraq? It clearly isn't run by saints with spotless reputation.

predicts YES

@42irrationalist I don't believe in "inherently bad countries". If something was done years ago, that does not mine the reputation of the current politicians. Every cabinet has their own story.

you can't just throw a new gear inside — that's not how mechanisms work.

That is the minus of their approach, it can only solidify whatever they think. Sometimes a new gear does show that the whole mechanism built up to this point is incorrect (or less probable) and needs to be rebuilt. (That is why I asked you "why?" and started this conversation). I more like metaculus approach: instead of having a model (that new info can or cannot fit to) have a probability, which gets updated with ANY new info (in case all models you have considered are wrong, and the info increases those you didn't knew about).

predicts NO

@KongoLandwalker I don't believe in inherently bad countries either. But I do think that that the system that produced these outcomes (especially the "WMD in Iraq" story) is still in place. I also tend to think that other governments likely have similar incentives, so I am by no means singling out the US here as unique actor.

I also do think that the US government has every reason to murk the public epistemic waters: its Ukraine's ally and is at odds with Russia. Simply put, it's a motivated actor.

Sometimes a new gear does show that the whole mechanism built up to this point is incorrect (or less probable) and needs to be rebuilt

In my metaphor that would be adding the gear and changing the overall mechanism.

which gets updated with ANY new info

I am not sure it makes much sense. How much would you update on the info from the Russian government?

What's the point of updating on a supposed explosion on the satellite images when we don't even know the time of these images?

predicts YES

Both Ukrainian and Russian sources reported hearing blasts from the dam's hydroelectric power station, regional seismometers detected explosions in the area, and a satellite detected the infrared heat signature of an explosion.


This is less useful because American sources cannot be trusted in this matter.

@ShadowyZephyr Do feel free to suggest alternative resolution criteria and I’ll consider making another market with those and/or make such a market yourself and post it here

predicts YES

@ShadowyZephyr what sources would you use instead?

Reminder to also check the related markets linked in the description. In particular there seems to be an arbitrage opportunity right now against the stricter-criteria /YaakovSaxon/did-the-russians-intend-to-destroy

predicts NO

@YaakovSaxon But even more likely to resolve N/A

@WieDan There wasn’t enough room in the title, but I think I made clear in the description of that market that negligence or someone other than the Russians being responsible would both resolve NO for that market, rather than N/A. Is there any other reason that that market would resolve N/A more that I’ve missed?

predicts NO

@YaakovSaxon Well it's going to be extremely hard to prove they intended lesser damage. So that's a risk of a huge argument and N/A for inconclusive evidence