Publish date8 Jun 2023 - 22:24
Story Code : 596118

Russia says Ukraine behind shelling, breaching of Kherson dam

A senior Russian diplomat has told a UN court in the Hague that Ukraine was behind shelling and destruction of strategic dam in the Russian-held Kherson region.
Russia says Ukraine behind shelling, breaching of Kherson dam
Russia and Ukraine have traded blame for the bursting of the Soviet-era Kakhovka hydroelectric dam, which sent waters cascading across the war zone of southern Ukraine in the early hours of Tuesday, forcing tens of thousands to flee.

Kiev "has declared that Russia blew up the large dam at Nova Kakhovka. In fact, it's Ukraine that did it", Alexander Shulgin told the International Court of Justice (ICJ) on Thursday.

"The Kiev regime not only launched massive artillery attacks against the dam on the night of June 6, but it also deliberately raised the water level of the Kakhovka reservoir to a critical level" by opening sluice gates at a hydroelectric plant beforehand, he said.

The Russian envoy also told the court that Kiev had "no moral authority" and was oppressing people in eastern Ukraine.

"This regime rose to power on the back of a violent coup in 2014 on the shoulders of nationalists who were the direct descendants of the Nazi collaborators in World War II," Shulgin said.

President Vlodymir Zelensky's government had "neo-Nazis" in key posts including in the armed forces, the Russian diplomat said, accusing them of "brutal repression" in the Donbas region.

The dam was destroyed on Tuesday, forcing thousands to flee their homes as water surged into the Dnipro River, flooding dozens of villages and parts of the regional capital Kherson. 

The environmental impact is grave, NGOs have warned.

A total of 600 square kilometers of the Kherson region is underwater, regional governor Oleksandr Prokudin said on social media.

The Moscow-installed head of the Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, said Ukrainian strikes killed two people at an evacuation point for civilians.

"Fighters from the Kiev regime committed a heinous crime. They shelled a civilian evacuation point in Gola Prystan. Two people were killed, including a 33-year-old pregnant woman. Two more people were wounded."

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday denounced the attack on the dam as a ''barbaric act that led to a large-scale environmental and humanitarian catastrophe."

Currently, nearly 42,000 people are reportedly at risk of being affected by the flooding in Russian and Ukrainian-controlled areas along the Dnipro River after the dam collapsed.

Ukraine also blamed Russia for the dam's destruction, describing it as the result of "Russian act of terrorism."

On Thursday, hundreds of Ukrainians were rescued from rooftops in the flood-stricken region of Kherson, as Kiev dismissed reports a counteroffensive had begun.

The dam collapse happened as Ukraine prepared a counteroffensive. 

NBC news, citing a senior officer and a soldier near the front lines, said the offensive had begun. The Washington Post cited "four individuals" in the armed forces saying the same thing.

Asked about the reports, a Ukrainian armed forces general staff spokesperson said: "We have no such information."
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