Ukraine has accused Russia of blowing up a significant dam in southern Ukraine, leading to the discharge of water and raising concerns about extensive flooding and ecological damage.
Authorities have issued evacuation orders for hundreds of thousands of residents downstream.
This incident, occurring amid the 16-month-long conflict in Ukraine, has far-reaching implications, including the potential impact on Europe’s largest nuclear power plant and the water supply in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia. Read on for the latest updates on this critical situation.
The explosion of the Kakhovka dam has introduced a complex dynamic to the ongoing conflict, as Ukrainian forces are advancing in a counteroffensive along a stretch of over 1,000 kilometers in the eastern and southern regions. Russian officials, however, claim that Ukrainian military strikes were responsible for damaging the dam.
The aftermath of the dam breach could be significant, with the downstream areas facing the risk of flooding homes, streets, and businesses.
Furthermore, there are concerns about the depletion of water levels upstream, which are crucial for cooling the massive nuclear power plant.
The incident also has implications for the water supply in Crimea, as it was illegally annexed by Russia.
Energoatom, Ukraine’s nuclear operator, has acknowledged the potential negative consequences for the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility. However, they assure that the situation is currently under control, and the International Atomic Energy Agency has confirmed no immediate nuclear safety risks at the plant.
Environmental experts and activists have expressed their worries over the collapse of the dam and its severe impact on the surroundings. Not only would it jeopardize the crucial cooling system of the nuclear plant, but it could also lead to the depletion of water supply in northern Crimea.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s senior advisor, Mykhailo Podolyak, has emphasized the gravity of the situation, warning of a global ecological disaster that could result in the destruction of numerous ecosystems and animal habitats.
Videos circulating online provide visual evidence of the flooding, showing submerged roadways and animals seeking refuge from rising waters. In response to this crisis, an emergency meeting has been called by President Zelenskyy to address the urgent situation and implement necessary measures.
To ensure the safety of residents, the Ukrainian Interior Ministry has urged individuals in ten villages on the river’s right bank and parts of the city of Kherson downstream to gather essential documents, turn off appliances, and prepare for possible evacuation. However, caution is advised regarding the spread of disinformation.
The mayor of Nova Kakhovka, installed by Russia, has characterized the dam strikes as a serious act of terrorism. Although an evacuation of city residents has not been explicitly recommended, preparations are being made for potential worst-case scenarios.
Control over the dams along the Dnipro River is vital for Ukraine’s water supply and power generation. Currently, Ukraine governs five of the six dams, while the Kakhovka dam, located furthest downstream, remains under Russian control. Stay informed about the evolving situation and its broader implications for Ukraine and the region.