Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar alleged on Sunday that the Kakhovka dam was blown up by Russian forces to prevent the Ukrainian offensive in the southern Kherson region.
“By destroying the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, the Russian leadership is trying to divert some of the forces and resources of the Ukrainian Defense Forces to eliminate [the consequences of] the man-made disaster, thereby making it impossible to liberate the occupied territories on the left bank of the Kherson region,” she said on Telegram. Maliar added that Russia’s move also intended to facilitate a deployment of Russian reserves to the Zaporizhzhia and Bakhmut areas, while preventing Ukrainian forces from freeing up reserves for a deployment to the Kherson region.
The destruction of the dam caused a vast flood inundating towns and villages. Residents are still trapped in the flooded areas while entire houses have been swept away by torrential waters.
Ukraine and Russia have traded accusations over the destruction of the dam which has been under Russian occupation since the early weeks of Russia’s invasion in February last year.
The British Defense Ministry said Sunday in its daily intelligence update on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that the collapse of the Kakhovka Dam has left the Russian and Ukrainian communities on either side of the flooded Dnipro “facing a sanitation crisis with limited access to safe water, and an increased risk of water-borne diseases.”
In a tweet Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that his country “will do everything to guarantee people a basis for life, even after this disaster.” Pointing the finger of the destruction at Russia he said “any terrorist counts on only a few forms of results for himself: the suffering of people, the intimidation of people, and the ruins that terror leaves behind. This is exactly how Russia acts in this case.”
At least 700,000 people need drinking water after the collapse of the Kakhovka dam in Ukraine, said United Nations Undersecretary-General Martin Griffiths. The U.N. aid chief said the humanitarian situation in the country has gotten “hugely worse” since the rupture of the dam. He warned that the flooding in one of the world’s most important breadbaskets will almost inevitably lead to lower grain exports, higher food prices globally and less to eat for millions in need.
The long-term consequences of this evolving environmental catastrophe will be generational, said Eugene Simonov, an environmental scientist with the Ukraine War Environmental Consequences Working Group (UWEC), a nonprofit organization of activists and researchers.
Clear signals have emerged that an explosion occurred at the Kakhovka dam early Tuesday morning, the Norwegian seismic research foundation Norsar said.
Ukrainian troops said Sunday they recaptured a village from Russian forces in the southeast, the first liberated settlement they have claimed since launching the counterattack.
Soldiers hoisted the Ukrainian flag at a bombed-out building in an unverified video published by Ukraine’s 68th Jaeger Brigade, which identified the settlement as Blahodatne in the Donetsk region.
“We’re seeing the first results of the counteroffensive actions, localized results,” Valeryi Shershen, spokesperson for Ukraine’s “Tavria” military sector, said on television.
He said the village lay on the edge of the Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia regions a few kilometers south of the Kyiv-controlled village of Velyka Novosilka.
Meanwhile, Russia claims its air defense systems shot down a Ukrainian missile near the Russian-controlled port city of Berdyansk on the Sea of Azov, Russian state-owned news agency TASS reported. Also, Russia said Sunday it had destroyed at least seven German-made Leopard tanks and five U.S.-made Bradley vehicles over 48 hours while repelling Ukrainian attacks, though Russian bloggers reported Ukraine had briefly broken through the Russian line.
Reuters was unable to verify battlefield reports from either side.