The European Union chief Charles Michel has expressed shock over an attack on the the Nova Kakhovka dam, a major Ukraine dam and pledged to hold Russia accountable for the “war crime” of destroying civilian infrastructure.
Ukraine’s military has accused Russia of blowing up the dam, while Russian officials have blamed the Ukrainians.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there was no immediate nuclear safety risk but it was monitoring the situation.
The destruction of civilian infrastructure clearly qualifies as a war crime and we will hold Russia and its proxies accountable,” European Council chief Michel wrote on social media.
People are currently being evacuated from communities in the surrounding areas, with fears that any flooding could be catastrophic.
Meanwhile Michel, the head of the body that brings together EU leaders, said he would propose “more assistance to the flooded areas” at their next summit in Brussels this month.
It’s not yet clear what caused the breach in the dam, but Ukraine’s military has accused Russia of deliberately blowing it up. This seems plausible, as Moscow may have feared that Ukrainian forces would use the road over the dam to get troops across the river into Russian-held territory, as part of a counter-offensive.
The Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant is in the city of Nova Kakhovka in Ukraine’s Kherson region, which is currently under Russian occupation.
The dam is very important and serves a number of purposes.
It holds back a vast reservoir that supplies water for a host of communities upstream, which means it could affect people’s supplies there.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called the Russian forces “terrorists” and said the attack showed they “needed to be expelled from every corner” of his country.