The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has described the collapse of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine as an act of ‘mass environmental destruction’ and maintained the attack on such critical infrastructure would not alter Ukraine’s plans to retake territory from occupying Russian forces.
Describing the explosion that destroyed the dam as a deliberate and chaotic act by Russia, Zelenskyy said on Tuesday that the dam was blown up in a bid to ‘use the flood as a weapon’ to hamper Ukrainian forces.
In his nightly address to the nation, Zelenskyy said Moscow was resigned to losing control of Russian-annexed Crimea and, therefore, had destroyed the region’s water supply.
‘The fact that Russia deliberately destroyed the Kakhovka reservoir, which is critically important, in particular, for providing water to Crimea, indicates that the Russian occupiers have already realised that they will have to flee Crimea as well,’ he said.
‘We will still liberate all our land,’ Zelenskyy said, adding that the blowing up of the dam would not avert a Russian defeat but would add to the post-war reparation costs that Moscow will have to pay to Ukraine one day.
The Kremlin blamed Ukraine for the dam’s collapse on Tuesday, saying Kyiv had destroyed the site to distract from the faltering launch of its counteroffensive that Moscow had already blunted.
Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said his forces had thwarted the first three days of Ukraine’s counteroffensive in battles that had left thousands of Ukrainian soldiers dead or wounded. The decision to destroy the dam was to slow the attacking Russian forces, he said.
Neither Moscow nor Kyiv provided evidence for their claims regarding the dam’s destruction.
The dam’s collapse presents a new humanitarian disaster in the centre of a war zone and as Ukraine prepares for its long-awaited counteroffensive.