Dam destroyed in Kherson, Kiev and Moscow accuse each other: “Thousands of civilians in danger”
A 30-metre-high dam containing 18 cubic kilometers of water collapsed overnight in the Kherson region of Ukraine. A disaster that exposes tens of thousands of people to the risk of flooding, both in the territories controlled by Russian forces and in those under the control of Kiev. According to the Ukrainian authorities, Moscow sabotaged the Nova Kakhovka dam, thus preventing the forces engaged in the Ukrainian counter-offensive from crossing the Dnipro river. Accusations rejected by the Kremlin, which instead blamed Kiev for the “sabotage” that would have the aim of depriving Crimea of water.
After the collapse, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called an urgent meeting of the National Security Council, accusing Russian “terrorists” of having triggered “an internal detonation of the structures of the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant”. A “heinous war crime” was defined by Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmitro Kuleba, who accused Russia of having caused what is “probably the biggest European technological disaster in decades”.
The Ukrainian governor of Kherson spoke of about 16,000 people currently in the “critical area” along the Dnipro. In the territories controlled by Russian forces, on the other hand, 22,000 civilians are in danger, according to the estimates of the pro-Russian administrator of the territory.
“We do everything to save people. All services are involved, military, government, offices,” Zelensky wrote on Telegram, while attempts are underway to evacuate the most exposed areas. The pro-Russian mayor of Nova Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontiev, said the water level in the town adjacent to the dam had risen ten meters and would rise again. “The water keeps rising. Civilians are being evacuated from adjacent flooded areas to preserve all lives… There is no panic in the city,” Leontiev said.
The destruction of the dam, according to the European Union, represents “yet another brutal attack” against Ukraine. “The EU strongly condemns this horrific and barbaric attack on such a crucial piece of infrastructure with dire humanitarian and environmental consequences,” said EU External Action Service spokesman Peter Stano, according to whom the collapse was “a new signal of escalation, which brings the horrific and barbaric nature of Russian aggression against Ukraine to unprecedented heights”.
According to German Chancellor Olaf Scholz the war has now entered a “new dimension”. “Infrastructures, civilian targets, hospitals have been attacked. This is something that brings a new dimension, but it fits the way Putin is waging this war,” Scholz stressed.
“Italy strongly condemns the bombing of the Kakhovka dam, in the Kherson region, which is putting thousands of people at risk and causing an ecological disaster, further aggravating the ongoing humanitarian emergency”, the reaction of the head of the Farnesina Antonio Tajani. “I am following developments with the utmost attention and concern, also in relation to the possible consequences on the safety of the Zaporizhzia nuclear power plant. We stand by our Ukrainian friends and all civilians who are suffering the consequences of this further and brutal attack”.