Russia and Ukraine accused each other on Tuesday of being responsible for the collapse of the major dam in southern Ukraine. Kyiv said Russia caused “Europe’s largest technological disaster in decades” and labeled it a “war crime”, while Moscow blamed Ukraine of being behind the “pre-planned terrorist act”.
The dam of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant which is in an area occupied by Russia collapsed on Tuesday, flooding nearby villages, damaging crops, and compromising drinking water reserves. Both warring sides initiated evacuation operations to move people away from the flooded areas, and pointed the finger of the blame at the other with the accusation of deliberately attacking the dam.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy labeled the dam destruction a “crime” by Russia and called for international institutions to react. He said: “Russia must bear criminal responsibility for the ecocide provoked by blowing up the structures of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant.”
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said: “Russia destroyed the Kakhovka dam inflicting probably Europe’s largest technological disaster in decades and putting thousands of civilians at risk. This is a heinous war crime. The only way to stop Russia, the greatest terrorist of the 21st century, is to kick it out of Ukraine.”
The minister of environmental protection and natural resources of Ukraine Ruslan Strilets said that the dam explosion would mean a very “large-scale environmental disaster” the consequences of which will be felt in all of Europe. While the directorate of intelligence said that the dam collapse will cause an ecological disaster the scale of which will “go far beyond the borders of Ukraine and affect the entire Black Sea region.”
Meanwhile, the Kremlin labeled the dam collapse as “deliberate sabotage by the Ukrainian side” which “has the potential to cause very serious consequences for tens of thousands of the region’s residents, environmental consequences and consequences of another nature that are yet to be established,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
The Russian narrative is that Ukraine attacked the dam out of desperation and frustration over the fact that it launched a large-scale offensive operation two days ago, but failed to meet its objectives, resulting in stalled operations.
Russian defense minister said the dam attack was carried out by the Ukrainian government and in doing so committed a pre-planned “major act of terrorism”.
The Russian foreign ministry said: “What happened is a terrorist act directed against at purely civilian infrastructure. It was a pre-planned and deliberate act by the Kiev regime for military purposes as part of the so-called counter-offensive.”
The ministry condemned the dam destruction and labeled it a “large-scale humanitarian and environmental catastrophe”.
“We call on the world community to condemn the criminal acts of the Ukrainian authorities, which are of an increasingly inhuman nature and pose a serious threat to regional and global security,” the Russian ministry said.