Ukrainian president says Russian forces planted explosives inside the Nova Kahkhovka dam, which holds back an enormous reservoir.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russia of plotting to blow up a huge dam that would flood a swath of southern Ukraine, as his forces prepare to push Moscow’s troops from Kherson in one of the war’s most important battles.
In a television address late on Friday, Zelenskyy said Russian forces had planted explosives inside the huge Nova Kakhovka dam, which holds back an enormous reservoir that dominates much of southern Ukraine, and were planning to blow it up.
“Now everyone in the world must act powerfully and quickly to prevent a new Russian terrorist attack. Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster,” he said.
Russia accused Kyiv earlier this week of rocketing the dam and planning to destroy it, in what Ukrainian officials called a sign that Moscow might blow it up and blame Kyiv. Neither side produced evidence to back up their allegations.
The vast Dnieper River bisects Ukraine and is several kilometres wide in places. Bursting the Soviet-era dam, controlled by Russia, would unleash a wall of devastating floodwater across much of the Kherson region, which Ukrainian forces hope to recapture in a major advance.
It would also wreck the canal system that irrigates much of southern Ukraine, including Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014.
Zelenskyy said cutting water supplies to the south could also affect the cooling systems of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, Europe’s largest.
He called on world leaders to make clear that blowing up the dam would be treated “exactly the same as the use of weapons of mass destruction”, with similar consequences to those threatened if Russia uses nuclear or chemical weapons.
Kirill Stremousov, a Russian-installed official in the occupied part of Ukraine’s Kherson region on Friday rejected allegations that Russia has begun mining the dam as “false”, state news agency RIA reported.
(Curtesy Al Jazeera)