Roof of a house is seen in the Dnipro river which flooded after the Nova Kakhovka dam breached,, in Kherson Roof of a house is seen in the Dnipro river which flooded after the Nova Kakhovka dam breached,, in Kherson 

Kyiv accuses Moscow of blowing up dam as thousands flee flooding

Ukraine has accuses Russia of blowing up a massive dam on the Dnipro River, forcing thousands of people to flee catastrophic flooding, and urges the United Nations to intervene. However, Moscow denies responsibility for the disaster in the Russian-occupied Kherson area in southern Ukraine.

By Stefan J. Bos

Residents are in shock as a torrent of water bursts through a colossal dam on the Dnipro River in southern Ukraine.

The Ukrainian military says the Russian forces blew up the Nova Kakhovka dam in the Russian-occupied part of Ukraine's Kherson region.

Occupying Russian authorities in the town of Nova Kakhovka initially denied anything had happened to the dam but then blamed the collapse on Ukrainian shelling.

The governor of the Kherson region, Oleksandr Prokudin, said about 16,000 people were in the "critical zone" on the Ukrainian-controlled right bank of the river.


With water rapidly rising, thousands are evacuating for fear of catastrophic flooding. Russian media say a state of emergency has been declared in the Nova Kakhovka district.

The dam is part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant and is 30 meters (98 feet) tall and 3.2 kilometers (2 miles) long. Its reservoir holds 18 cubic kilometers (4.3 cubic miles) of water - a volume roughly equal to the Great Salt Lake in the U.S. state of Utah.

The reservoir also supplies water to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, and to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, Europe's largest, which is also under Russian control.

War crime

The European Union has already called the dam's destruction a war crime. Peter Stano, a spokesman of the EU's executive European Commission, expresses concern about the impact on civilians calling it "a new sign of escalation."

He says the dam's destruction "brings the targeting of civilian infrastructure and civilians in Ukraine to unprecedented levels."

And, "of course, the European Union strongly condemns this horrific and barbaric attack against such a crucial piece of infrastructure with terrible humanitarian and environmental consequences."

Stano adds: "It is obvious that this is happening in the context of Russia's illegal aggression against Ukraine in which [Russian President Vladimir] Putin did not hesitate to employ hunger as a weapon, energy as a weapon. He weaponized the winter; he's playing a nuclear gamble with nuclear power plants in Ukraine. So this is again a new sign of escalation bringing the horrific and barbaric nature of Russian aggression against Ukraine to unprecedented levels."      

The Kremlin denies wrongdoing and says the tragedy is an attempt by Kyiv to take away attention from what it calls Ukraine's failed counteroffensive against Russia's invasion.

Exchange of accusations

Russia earlier claimed that hundreds of Ukrainian troops were killed Sunday after its military thwarted a significant battlefield offensive against Russian forces in the Donetsk region.

Kyiv has accused Russia of acting like a "terrorist state," saying the country aims to prevent Ukrainian troops from crossing the Dnipro River to attack Russian occupying forces.

And Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says "Russian terrorists" were responsible for the damage.

He claims that the dam's destruction only confirms for the whole world that Russian forces must, in his words, "be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land."

Kyiv has called for an urgent United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss the crisis.

Listen to the report by Stefan Bos

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06 June 2023, 17:23