File photo of the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant on the Dnieper River File photo of the Kakhovka hydroelectric plant on the Dnieper River 

Ukraine: ‘Russia plans to blow up hydroelectric dam’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of preparing to blow up a dam at a hydroelectric plant in southern Ukraine, which he said could lead to a "large-scale disaster."

By Stefan J. Bos 

President Zelensky said Russia had mined the massive dam of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Station on the Dnieper River in the city of Nova Kakhovka.

However, Zelensky's office said Friday that it would "not succumb to peace by coercion" as long as Russia’s eight-months invasion of Ukraine continues and warned Kyiv would retaliate. 

The Nova Kakhovka dam is under Russian occupation, but Ukrainian forces are closing in.

Ukrainian troops are increasingly taking territory in Kherson, one of four Ukrainian regions that Russia annexed in recent weeks.

Footage has emerged of battles and Russian soldiers surrendering to Ukrainian troops on their way to Kherson city, the region's capital. 

Safe departure?

“The Russian army will allow the safe departure of the population," said the Russian Armed Forces General Sergey Surovikin. He added: "Our further plans and actions regarding the city of Kherson will depend on the unfolding of the military and tactical situation. I repeat, it is already very difficult." 

With Russia losing territory, the head of the Ukrainian president's office, Andriy Yermak, claimed Moscow wanted to destroy the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric dam as "nuclear blackmail did not work."

But the Russian-appointed official in occupied Kherson, Kirill Stremousov, accused Kyiv of spreading “false” information. 

Russia also accused Ukraine of firing missiles at the dam, charges Kyiv denies. The rhetoric on both sides reflected the bloodshed on the ground. 

There appeared to be no appetite for peace talks, with much of Ukraine's infrastructure being destroyed by Russian drones and missiles and Ukraine's counter-offensive continuing. 

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21 October 2022, 16:43