Destruction of Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine prompts mass evacuations
Ukraine has accused Russia of destroying the Nova Kakhovka dam early on Tuesday morning, leading to mass evacuations. The breach of the major dam in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine has been called an act of "ecocide" by Andriy Yermak, head of the Office of the President of Ukraine.
Multiple towns and cities downstream on the Dnipro river include Kherson, a city of approximately 300,000 people. Residents were told to “do everything you can to save your life”, according Kherson governor Oleksandr Prokudin.
Prokudin confirmed that evacuations had begun and urged citizens to take their most essential belongings and wait for evacuation buses.
“The Russians will be responsible for the possible deprivation of drinking water for people in the south of Kherson region and Crimea, the possible destruction of some settlements and the biosphere,” Yermak said.
The dam, a vital piece of infrastructure, holds around 18 cubic kilometres in the Kakhovka Reservoir. It supplies water for a large amount of southeastern Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which lies upstream of the river and is under Russian control, relies on the dam as a water source.
The destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam will affect the operation of the Zaporizhzhia plant, but the situation is "under control", Natalia Humeniuk, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s military said on Tuesday.
The devastation of the dam comes after a military strike by Russia on Monday in Kharkiv. According to Ukrainian officials, a 57-year-old man was killed and nine others were injured in the attack that targeted a residential area in Balakliya.
Western countries continue to show support for Ukraine in their war against Russia. UK Foreign secretary James Cleverly met Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday evening in Kyiv to discuss how to end the war. Cleverly pledged continued aid and said the fastest way to prevail would be withdrawing Russian troops from Ukrainian territory. Ukrainian prime minister Denys Shmyhal added that groups of Ukrainian pilots had been selected for training in the UK, where they will learn to fly modern fighter jets.
Following the drone attacks on Moscow, the US has pledged another 300 million dollars in military aid to bolster Ukraine's counteroffensive. The package includes more ammunition for air defence systems, long-range artillery and drones.
© MAXAR TECHNOLOGIES / AFP