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Kherson Dam Partially Destroyed, Flooding Conflict Zone in Southern Ukraine

A satellite image shows a road and part of the Nova Khakovka dam in southern Ukraine. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky plans to convene the Security Council on June 7, 2023, following the explosion of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam in southern Ukraine.
photograph: AFP

A vast Soviet-era dam in the Russian-held area of ​​southern Ukraine has been blown up, flooding the battlefield, according to both Ukrainian and Russian forces.

The dam has an 18-square-kilometer reservoir that supplies water to Russia’s Crimea peninsula and the Zaporizhia nuclear power plant, which is also under Russian control.

The Russian news agency said the dam had been destroyed by shelling, while the mayor of the Russian-held city of Nova Kakhovka accused Ukraine of terrorism.

There was no “serious danger” at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhia facility (Europe’s largest nuclear power plant). Russia’s TASS news agency quoted an official in the Zaporizhia region, which is backed by the Russian government, as saying:

The Russian-speaking mayor of the Kherson region said evacuations near the dam had begun.

The Ukrainian military has announced that Russian forces have blown up the dam.

“Kakhovka (dam) was blown up by Russian occupation forces,” the Ukrainian Confederate Command said on its Facebook page on Tuesday.

“The scale of the destruction, the speed and volume of water, and areas that may be flooded are being identified.”

Unconfirmed videos on social media showed a series of violent explosions around Kakhovka Dam. Other videos showed water rushing against the wreckage of the dam, with bystanders expressing their shock, sometimes in strong language.

The 30-meter-high, 3.2-km (2-mile) long dam was built on the Dnipro River in 1956 as part of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station.

The Russian government has repeatedly blamed Kiev for the attack on the dam and has cited the threat of a dam blowing as one of the main reasons for the eventual withdrawal of Russian troops from the city of Kherson to the left bank of the Dnieper. ing.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky will hold an emergency meeting over the Nova Kakhova Dam explosion in southern Ukraine, Oleksiy Danilov, secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, said on Tuesday.

Reuters was unable to immediately confirm battlefield descriptions from either side.

New airstrikes, reports of counterattacks starting

Meanwhile, Russia launched a new wave of nighttime airstrikes on Kiev, and Ukraine said its air defense system shot down more than 20 cruise missiles while approaching the city.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the reports and it is unclear whether any of the recent fighting marks the beginning of Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive.

Ukrainian officials have said nothing about a broad and significant new campaign, but Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky added a touch of mystery to his Monday night speech, calling it “the news we’ve been waiting for.” and praised Donetsk’s forward move at Bakhmut.

Russian President Vladimir Putin sent troops to Ukraine on February 24 last year, as the Kremlin hoped for a swift operation, but Russian forces suffered a series of defeats and regrouped in eastern Ukraine.

During the winter, tens of thousands of Russian troops dug trenches and besieged Bakhmut for months, preparing for an expected Ukrainian counterattack that would cut Russia’s so-called land bridge to Crimea.

Russia announced over the weekend that it had thwarted a major Ukrainian offensive in the Donetsk region, and on Tuesday the Defense Ministry also said a new Ukrainian offensive had been repulsed.

According to the report, Russian forces suffered heavy casualties in the attack on Ukrainian forces and destroyed 28 tanks, including eight Leopard main battle tanks and 109 armored vehicles. Ukrainian army losses totaled 1500 men.

“Having suffered heavy losses the day before, the Kiev regime reorganized the remaining units of the 23rd and 31st mechanized brigades into separate joint units and continued offensive operations,” the ministry said in a telegram.

“Army forces, assault tactical aviation, missile forces, artillery, and heavy flamethrower systems inflicted a complex fire defeat.”

There was no immediate comment from Kiev on Russia’s allegations. Russia and Ukraine have often claimed to have inflicted heavy casualties on each other, but this has not been verified.

of washington post Some U.S. officials have reported that they believe a Ukrainian counterattack is underway, but White House National Security Press Secretary John Kirby declined to comment on whether that was the case.

“I do not intend to speak on behalf of the Ukrainian military,” he said at a news conference, adding that the United States “does everything possible to ensure that the Ukrainian military is fully equipped, trained and capable.” . success. “

The success or failure of the expected counterattack, which would use billions of dollars worth of Western advanced weapons, would likely influence the shape of future Western diplomatic and military support for Ukraine.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said: Reuters On Monday, Ukraine said it had enough weapons to fight back, but declined to comment when asked if a counterattack had begun.

In a report Monday evening, the Ukrainian General Staff did not mention any major attacks, nor did it suggest any deviation from the usual tempo and scope of fighting on the front lines, which had not changed significantly in months. rice field.

Deputy Defense Minister Hannah Marial said in Telegram that Ukraine was “moving into offensive actions” along parts of the front, but denied any proposals for a large-scale operation.

Russia’s Wagner militia leader Evgeny Prigozhin told Telegram that Russia’s allegations of huge Ukrainian losses were “completely nonsensical and absurd science fiction”.

Russia now controls at least 18% of the internationally recognized territory of Ukraine and claims four more parts of Ukraine as Russian territory after annexing Crimea in 2014.

– Reuters

https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/world/491441/dam-in-kherson-partially-destroyed-flooding-southern-ukraine-war-zone Kherson Dam Partially Destroyed, Flooding Conflict Zone in Southern Ukraine

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