Ukraine: evacuations continue after the partial destruction of a dam


“The most difficult situation is taking place in the Korabelny district of the city of Kherson. So far the water level has risen by 3.5 meters, more than 1,000 houses are flooded”, in this city ​​taken over from the Russians by the Ukrainians in November 2022, said in a press release the deputy chief of staff of the Ukrainian presidency, Oleksiï Kouléba. Evacuations will continue on Wednesday and in the coming days by bus and train, he said.

The main information to remember:

  • More than 40,000 people risk being in flooded areas according to the Ukrainian authorities, including more than 25,000 in territory under Russian control
  • kyiv and Moscow accuse each other of carrying out an attack on the dam
  • “No immediate nuclear danger” in Zaporijjia, located upstream of the dam, according to the IAEA

More than 40,000 people located in risk areas

“More than 40,000 people are at risk of being in flooded areas. The Ukrainian authorities are evacuating more than 17,000 people. Unfortunately, more than 25,000 civilians are in territory under Russian control,” Ukrainian Prosecutor General Andriy Kostin announced on Tuesday. “At this stage, 24 localities in Ukraine have been flooded,” said Ukrainian Interior Minister Igor Klymenko.

The authorities installed by the Russians in the regions they occupy said they had begun the evacuation of the population of three localities, mobilizing around fifty buses. Vladimir Leontiev, the Moscow-appointed mayor of Nova Kakhovka, where the dam is located, said his town was under water and 900 of its residents had been evacuated.

In Geneva, OCHA, the UN humanitarian agency, warned that the destruction of the dam could cause an environmental disaster and “have a severe impact on hundreds of thousands of people on both sides of the front line”. In Washington, a spokesman for the White House estimated that this destruction had “certainly (caused) many deaths, while specifying that he had” no definitive conclusion on what happened “.

Mutual accusations

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of “detonating a bomb” on the dam. She had undermined him, he said last October. “It is physically impossible to somehow blow up (it) from the outside, with bombardments,” the version given by Moscow, he added. “The world must react. Russia is at war against life, against nature, against civilization”, insisted Volodymyr Zelensky, assuring however that this “would not affect Ukraine’s ability to liberate its own territories” .

For kyiv, the Russians acted in this way in order to “curb” the offensive of its army. Because if the Russian defensive lines along the Dnieper will be submerged, it is above all a potential Ukrainian military operation in this region which risks being hampered. Ukraine had claimed the day before to have gained ground near Bakhmout, in the East, while relativizing the extent of the “offensive actions” carried out elsewhere on the front.

Russia says for its part repel these major attacks, while acknowledging Tuesday that 71 of its soldiers were dead and 210 had been injured in recent days. And this while the Russian army rarely reports its losses. The Ukrainians claim to have been preparing for months a vast counter-offensive intended to force Russian troops to withdraw from the territories they have seized. Regarding the dam, the Kremlin denounced an act of “deliberate sabotage” and “firmly” rejected the Ukrainian accusations, calling on the international community to “condemn” kyiv for this destruction.

This has raised new concerns for the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, located 150 km upstream and cooled by the water retained by the dam. But there is “no immediate nuclear danger,” said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Like the dam, the plant is located in an area occupied by the Russians after the invasion they launched on February 24, 2022.

“Brutal Ecocide”

“Russia is guilty of brutal ecocide,” accused Volodymyr Zelensky. Several tens of thousands of hectares of agricultural land in the Kherson region are at risk of flooding, the Ukrainian Ministry of Agriculture wrote in a press release, saying it fears the complete drying up of fields in the south of the country as early as the year. next due to the destruction of the dam and a lack of drinking water for the population.

“Ukraine is calling for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kouleba said. “Russia cannot defeat us on the battlefield, so it targets civilian infrastructure,” said Anton Korynevych, the Ukrainian representative before the International Court of Justice, in The Hague. “This is another devastating consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.

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