Kherson – The destruction of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine, of which Moscow and Kiev blamed each other, yesterday caused massive flooding in some twenty towns and forced the evacuation of thousands of people. The fact, which conditions kyiv’s chances of expanding its counteroffensive in occupied territories, could put the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant at risk and even cause an environmental disaster.
“So far, 24 towns in Ukraine have been flooded,” Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said, and more than 17,000 civilians had to be evacuated from the flooded areas, according to Attorney General Andrii Kostin.
“More than 40,000 people could be in flooded areas. Ukrainian authorities evacuate more than 17,000 people. Unfortunately, more than 25,000 civilians are in the territory under Russian control,” the Ukrainian prosecutor said on Twitter.
The dam’s hydroelectric power station, captured by the Russians at the start of their offensive more than a year ago, is also “completely destroyed,” the head of Ukrainian hydroelectricity operator Ukrhydroenergo announced.
The Kremlin denounced an act of “deliberate sabotage” by kyiv and “firmly” rejected the Ukrainian accusations.
The authorities installed by Russia in Ukraine denounced “multiple Ukrainian attacks” against the dam.
For its part, Russia says it is repelling these large-scale attacks, while admitting yesterday that 71 of its soldiers have been killed in recent days.
The Ukrainian authorities claim to have been preparing for months a major counter-offensive to force the Russian troops to withdraw.
The mayor of Novaya Kajovka, Vladimir Leontiev, installed by the Kremlin, asserted that the occupied town had to evacuate some 900 people near the Dnieper river. “The city is flooded,” Vladimir Leontiev, the mayor of Novaya Kakhovka, told Russian television.
“It is physically impossible to blow it up from the outside, with bombing,” as Moscow claimed, Zelensky refuted. “The world must react. Russia is at war against life, against nature, against civilization,” said the Ukrainian president, who yesterday told a special envoy of Pope Francis in Kiev that a ceasefire “will not lead to peace.”
According to the Ukrainian government, which requested an urgent meeting of the UN Security Council, the destruction of the dam is an attempt by the Russians to “stop” the offensive of their Army. On Monday, Ukraine claimed to have gained ground near the eastern city of Bakhmut, while downplaying the scale of “offensive actions” on other parts of the front.
The partial destruction of the dam raises fears of consequences for the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, located 150 kilometers upriver, because it guarantees its cooling. However, “there is no immediate nuclear danger,” stressed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), adding that its experts at the facility are monitoring the situation.
Likewise, Ukrainian officials denounced that the destruction of the Kajovka hydroelectric dam in the south of the country caused the spillage of “150 tons of motor oil” into the Dnieper River and warned of the environmental risk.