The Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine has been blown up, Ukrainian and Russian officials said on Tuesday, threatening to flood areas downstream along the Dnipro River.
Ukraine’s state hydroelectric company said the power plant had been “totally destroyed” after a detonation inside the engine room.
The Soviet-era hydroelectric plant also supplies water to the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, and to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is also under Russian control.
“The Kakhovka [reservoir] was blown up by the Russian occupying forces,” the South command of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said on Tuesday morning on its Facebook page.
“The scale of the destruction, the speed and volumes of water, and the likely areas of inundation are being clarified.”
The Ukraine’s Kherson regional administration said that the water level would reach a critical level in five hours and began evacuating the population from dangerous areas.
“The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam only confirms for the whole world that they must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said.
“Not a single meter should be left to them, because they use every meter for terror.”
The Moscow-installed mayor of the nearby town of Nova Kakhovka initially denied social media reports that the dam had been blown up, but later said the dam had been shelled in “a serious terrorist act.”
Several islands have flooded, Russian officials said, while authorities in both countries said some 80 settlements downstream were at risk of being inundated.
Here are some of the other developments concerning Russia’s war in Ukraine on Tuesday, June 6:
‘No immediate risk’ to Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there is “no immediate threat” to the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
“IAEA experts at Zaporizhzhya Nuclear Power Plant are closely monitoring the situation,” the United Nations agency wrote on Twitter.
The Russian engineer currently in charge of the power plant, Yury Chernichuk, said the water cooling the facility’s spent nuclear fuel storage rods operates on a closed circuit and is not in direct contact with the Dnipro River.
“At the moment there are no threats to the safety of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant,” the Rostatom official said.
Ukraine’s state nuclear agency also said the situation was under control, but said the lower water levels nevertheless posed an additional threat to the safety of the power station.
Russia launches overnight air attack
Air defense systems were engaged in repelling air attacks in Kyiv and the Kyiv region region early on Tuesday, the military administration of the Ukrainian capital said on the Telegram messaging app.
Vitali Klitschko, mayor of the Ukrainian capital, also said that blasts heard in Kyiv were the sound of air defense systems repelling an attack.
After the attack, the Kyiv military administration said that air defenses destroyed more than 20 enemy objects.
Air raid alerts were in effect across all of Ukraine overnight as Russia launched another wave of airstrikes on Ukrainian cities.
Zelenskyy hails advances as Russia says offensive repelled
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday praised his troops for advances claimed near the devastated city of Bakhmut, while Russia said it had repelled a large-scale attack.
Zelenskyy welcomed what he called, “the news we have been waiting for” during his nightly video address to the Ukrainian people.
“I am grateful to each soldier, to all our defenders, men and women, who have given us today the news we have been waiting for. Fine job soldiers in the Bakhmut sector!” he said.
Zelenskyy went on to praise the actions of Ukrainian troops who, “skillfully, decisively and effectively defend our positions, destroy the occupiers and, most importantly, move forward.” The president also said Russia was reacting “hysterically” to Ukrainian forces.
Meanwhile, Russia’s Defense Ministry claimed early on Tuesday that it had thwarted another major offensive by Ukrainian forces in Donetsk, inflicting huge personnel losses and destroying eight main battle Leopard tanks.
Freedom of Russia Legion: ‘Everything captured by soldiers, stays with the soldiers’
Ilya Ponomarev, who was a deputy in the Russian State Duma, now lives in Ukraine and is the political representative of the Freedom of Russia Legion militia.
Ponomarev told DW that the troops he represents are besieging Shebekino, the district capital in the Belgorod region. They also took control over approximately a dozen small villages alongside the Russian-Ukrainian border, he said.
Ponomarev said that while both units — the Freedom of Russia Legion and Russian Volunteer Corps — were part of the Ukrainian military’s international legion, “for this particular operation, everybody took vacations.”
“Officially we are totally on our own. So we are not guided by Ukrainian military. They don’t supervise the operation. They don’t supply the operation,” he said.
Ponomarev also said that militias use the weapons procured during the previous fights on Ukrainian territory, and it’s predominantly Russian-made equipment.
He did however acknowledge the fighters had some small US weapons, but said only if they had first been captured by Russians and then reclaimed.
“But everything that is lost at at the battlefield and everything that is being captured by the soldiers, it stays with the soldiers. And there is no violation of no regulation whatsoever,” he said.
zc, dh/msh (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)