Ukraine accuses Russia of destroying a strategic dam on the Dnieper to stop the counteroffensive | International
The Nova Kajovka dam collapsed on Monday morning. The Ukrainian government assures that a detonation has destroyed a sector of the containment dam of one of the most important reservoirs on the Dnieper river. Nova Kajovka, located in the southeast of the country, is a city occupied by Russia, in a sector of the front where the Dnieper marks the dividing line between the two armies. kyiv has accused Russia of blowing up the dam to stop the Ukrainian counteroffensive. The Russian version is that the infrastructure has been broken after being attacked by Ukrainian artillery.
Ukrainian President Volodimir Zelensky has accused Russia of terrorism and has convened its National Security and Defense Council in an emergency meeting. "The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station," Zelensky stated on his social media profiles, "confirms to the whole world that [los rusos] they must be expelled from all corners of Ukrainian territory. They should not be left a single meter, because they use every meter for terror”. Under the Geneva Convention, using infrastructure such as a dam as a weapon of war is a war crime. Zelensky warned in October 2022 that Russian troops had planted explosive charges on the dam. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, has assumed that the responsibility for the disaster is Russian: “Dismayed by this unprecedented attack on the Nova Kajovka dam. The destruction of civilian infrastructure is considered a war crime. We will hold Russia and its agents responsible for it.”
Russian terrorists. 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. Not a single meter should be left to them, because they use every meter for terror. It's only… pic.twitter.com/ErBog1gRhH
— Volodimir Zelensky (@ZelenskyyUa) June 6, 2023
The first alerts from citizens began to go off around five in the morning. Different enclaves of Nova Kajovka such as jetties, avenues, cafeterias, a park or a summer theater began to flood from 6:30 a.m., according to what the mayor, Volodimir Kovalenko, told the newspaper Ukraineska Prvada. “The explosion is terrible because it affected not only the highway, but also the dam and, unfortunately, the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, that is, the engine room, which exploded. The destruction has been caused by the hand of man. The volume of water is falling rapidly at the moment”, commented the first mayor. Kovalenko, mayor in exile (Nova Kajovka, on the left bank of the river, is occupied by the Russians), acknowledges that there are problems obtaining details about the consequences of the incident and they do not even know if it was one or several explosions. In any case, he points without hesitation to Russian authorship.
Russia blames kyiv
The Russian authorities in Nova Kakhovka claim that the dam has not been detonated, but has instead broken after several Ukrainian attacks on the infrastructure. Satellite images of the containment dam provided by journalists from The Washington Post and npr They would show that in the last week the stretch of road that crosses over the dam would have disappeared, just above the place where the rupture occurred. The Telegram accounts of the main military analysts recall an interview last December in The Washington Post to General Andrii Kovalchuk in which he confirmed that tests with Himars missiles had been carried out at the dam to identify whether a controlled flooding of the Russian positions was possible. Kovalchuk assured that this option had been ruled out.
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The authorities' priority is the evacuation of the municipalities closest to the river on its western bank, the one controlled by the Ukrainian Army. From Nova Kakhovka to the city of Kherson, near the mouth, the river runs for about 60 kilometers. Most of the inhabitants of these municipalities have previously left the area as they were close to the war front. The Kherson military administration estimates that there are 16,000 people who must be evacuated immediately. The military administration of Nikopol, a city north of Nova Kajovka, has assured that the water level of the dam is decreasing by about 15 centimeters per hour.
The consequences of the blowing up of the dam are catastrophic in multiple areas. There are a dozen villages at imminent risk of being flooded on the western shore and which have ceased to be habitable, according to the Ukrainian authorities. Adding to the municipalities on the eastern shore, occupied by Russia, the Ukrainian government raises to 80 the inhabited nuclei that can remain under water. The ecological impact on the ecosystem will also be of great magnitude. The Swedish company Dämmningsverket published in October 2022 a computer simulation of what would be the consequences of destroying all the gates of the dam. Dämmningsverket estimated that the worst hit would be the city of Kherson, with a rise in the water level of up to five meters.
Ukrhydroenergo, the state hydroelectric generation company, has assured that the dam's power station has also been submerged and destroyed. The reservoir of the dam also supplied water for the Crimean peninsula. The water from the dam is used to cool the nuclear reactors of the Zaporizhia atomic power station. The plant has been occupied by Russia since March 2022. Energoatom, the Ukrainian state-owned company that operated the facility and still oversees its operation, has stated that they still have a sufficient water reserve and are monitoring the situation. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which has experts at the plant, has reported that for the moment there is no risk to the safety of the plant.
The consequences are also military. Ukraine has started the first stages of the counteroffensive and the destruction of the dam, expanding the flooded areas along the Dnieper, adds difficulty to possible amphibious assaults on the southern front. Three different companies of the Ukrainian special forces had confirmed in the last month to EL PAÍS that they had intensified their operations in territory controlled by Russia to locate enemy positions to be destroyed in a potential assault on the eastern fringe of the province of Kherson. Nova Kakhovka is strategic because if Ukraine managed to cross the river through the dam sector, it would open a flank in the Russian rear in the province of Zaporizhia, to the north, and open a new front towards Crimea, occupied by Russia since 2014.
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