Flooding of the Dnipro River around the Nova Kakhovka Dam, following its demolition, in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine, June 6, 2023
Map: Institute for Study of War
UPDATE 1605 GMT:
Scenes from the Ukraine-controlled part of the Kherson region….
"Putin will burn in hell, bastard! They couldn't finish us off, so they decided to drown us"
A resident of #Kherson emotionally expressed what she thought of Putin and his "liberators".
Subtitles: Nexta pic.twitter.com/UaSIncKBsj
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) June 7, 2023
"Because every life deserves to be fought for!"
Local residents and volunteers rescue kittens from the flooded Kherson region. pic.twitter.com/mqsyS4VCtq
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) June 7, 2023
UPDATE 1541 GMT:
Residents say the Russian authorities have set up checkpoints and are refusing entry to volunteers who want to help with evacuation.
One concerned poster wrote on Telegram:
SOS!!! Can anyone with a boat help? Cottagers Anna .. and her husband have been sitting on their roof since morning, praying for rescue. They’ve raised a white flag. It’s the first house on the right. Help!!!
Another person appealed:
Help! How can people in Oleshky be saved? Everyone in the Red Army district is sitting on the roof, waiting for assistance. Animals are sinking, drowning.
Sergei, a local volunteer in the occupied city of Nova Kakhovka, said of the “bad” situation:
There is almost no contact with the people there. No one is allowed into the town and those who make it out on boats are placed into buses and driven away.
We tried reaching Oleshky but checkpoints have been set up all around the town. A lot of people are waiting to be evacuated. We have heard stories of people drowning, but we can’t confirm because there is no access. Those with Ukrainian passports who are being evacuated further to Russia are forced to go through filtration centers.
Aid organization Helping to Leave described a “chaotic” scene: “They are not allowing volunteers on boats to enter. Some evacuation is being carried out by [Russian] emergency services but it’s very selective and it is not enough.”
The Russian proxy governor in the Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, declared from Nova Kakhakova even as flood waters rose: “People are calmly walking around the streets. I’ve just driven around the streets, people are working, the gas stations are open, some stores are open.”
Gleb, a resident, had a different perspective: “Everyone is left to fend for themselves, there is no organised evacuation.”
UPDATE 1229 GMT:
Videos indicate that there is little, if any, rescue effort in parts of the Russian-occupied area in the Kherson region.
Drone footage showed the completely-submerged town of Oleshky, across the Dnipro River from Ukrainian-held Kherson. A couple, trapped in their home, waved and prayed from an upper window as the woman wiped away tears.
Footage from a rooftop showed a totally-flooded house, with no sign of a rescue boat. Russian soldiers abandoned frontline positions and waded through water to higher ground.
A resident of the town of Nova Kakhovka said only Russian infantry soldiers were visible, and “they don’t know what to do”.
UPDATE 1023 GMT:
Summarizing his meeting with ministers and officials about flooding after destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam, Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has posted that the situation of the submerged Kakhovska Hydroelectric Power Plant was the “Number One topic”.
Zelenskiy also cited the priorities of the evacuation of residents, the urgent provision of drinking water, and “long-term solutions for settlements that were dependent on the reservoir”.
He said Russian proxy authorities in the occupied area of the Kherson region, on the left (east) bank of the Dnipro River, were failing in their duty to evacuate residents, and he pledged Ukraine would appeal to international organisations to assist those people.
UPDATE 0934 GMT:
The Chinese Government has issued its first statement about the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam and flooding in the Kherson region.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said:
We are seriously concerned about the Kakhovka dam destruction. We are deeply worried about the humanitarian, economic and ecological impacts caused by it….
We call on all parties concerned in the conflicts to follow international humanitarian law and to do their utmost to protect the safety of civilians and civil facility.
He expressed Beijing’s hope that all parties will commit to a political solution and work together for de-escalation of the conflict.
UPDATE 0929 GMT:
Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry says at least 500,000 hectares of land could be turned into “deserts” by the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam and the Kakhovska Hydroelectric Power Plant.
The demolition has cut off the water supply to 31 irrigation systems in the Dnipro, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions.
UPDATE 0819 GMT:
A Russian attack with an Iranian-made drone on a residential building has killed two people in the Sumy region in northern Ukraine. Another person is hospitalized.
The latest Russian shelling of the Donetsk region in eastern Ukraine has slain two civilians.
Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said Kurakhove, Ocheretyne, Avdiivka, Toretsk, and Chasiv Yar were among the targeted areas.
UPDATE 0811 GMT:
The Russian proxy governor of occupied areas of the Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, has — perhaps unwittingly — pointed to Moscow’s motive for the demolition of the Nova Kakhovka Dam.
Saldo said that from a military point of view, the “operational-tactical situation” has improved for Russia after the destruction and flooding of the Dnipro River.
Saldo said between 22,000 and 40,000 people are in the disaster zone in the Russian-occupied part of Kherson region, with the level of the Kakhovka reservoir dropping by more than 3.5 meters.
Video showing the flooding and devastation in Russian-occupied Oleshky, Kherson oblast, a day after the Kakhovka Dam under Russian forces’ control was destroyed. pic.twitter.com/k6ys9rnjij
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) June 7, 2023
UPDATE 0736 GMT:
The Russian proxy mayor of the occupied city of Nova Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontiev, says at least seven people are missing.
He said more than 900 people were evacuated on Tuesday from the city of about 45,000 people.
Nova Kakhovka is on the left (east) bank of the Dnipro River.
The governor of the Ukraine-controlled area of the Kherson region, Oleksandr Prokudin, says 1,582 houses have been flooded on the right (west) bank of the Dnipro and about 1,457 people were evacuated overnight.
UPDATE 0642 GMT:
A European ally told the Biden Administration in June 2022 that the Ukrainian military had planned a covert attack on the Nord Stream gas pipelines from Russia to Germany, according to a leaked US intelligence report.
The intelligence was shared three months before the September 26 sabotage of three of the four Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines in the Baltic Sea, off the coast of a Danish island.
The US document was among those allegedly posted on a Discord server by the Air National Guard member Jack Teixeira. He is facing trial over the circulation of classified material.
According to the European intelligence service, the Ukrainians planned to use a small team of divers, reporting directly to the commander in chief of the Ukrainian armed forces, Gen. Valery Zaluzhny. President Volodymyr Zelenskiy was not informed so he could maintain plausible deniability.
The intelligence report was based on information obtained from an individual in Ukraine. The CIA shared the report with Germany and other European countries last June.
Investigations by Denmark, Sweden, and Germany have yet to ascribe responsibility for the sabotage. In April, the Swedish team said it would “difficult” to do so.
UPDATE 0636 GMT:
Ukraine has updated its assessment of the damage from the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam, saying about 42,000 people are at risk from flooding on both sides of the Dnipro River.
Officials said waters are expected to peak on Thursday.
⚡ Government to allocate $40.6 million for new water mains.
Ukraine’s government will allocate Hr 1.5 billion ($40.6 million) for the construction of new water mains following the breach of the Kakhovka dam, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal announced on June 6.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) June 6, 2023
UPDATE 0627 GMT:
Russia has continued shelling across the Kherson region, amid the flooding caused by the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka Dam.
One civilian has been killed and one wounded.
Journalists reported four incoming artillery blasts near a residential neighborhood, where civilians were evacuating, in Kherson city on Tuesday evening.
UPDATE 0619 GMT:
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Ukraine has received “a serious, powerful” offer of US-made F-16 fighter jets from the leaders of other countries.
“Our partners know how many aircraft we need,” Zelenskiy posted in a statement. “I have already received an understanding of the number from some of our European partners.”
He said Ukraine awaits a final agreement, including “a joint agreement with the United States”.
UPDATE 0604 GMT:
At an emergency session of the UN Security Council, Russia’s Ambassador Vassily Nebenzya was challenged over “floundering again in the mud of lies” after he claimed that Ukraine, not Moscow, destroyed the Nova Kakhovka Dam.
Ukraine Ambassador Sergiy Kyslytsya noted that Russia again was blaming the victim for its own crimes.
By resorting to scorched earth tactics, or in this case to flooded earth tactics, the Russian occupiers have effectively recognised that the captured territory does not belong to them, and they are not able to hold these lands.
French, US, and UK representatives all called for an investigation. Deputy US Ambassador Robert Wood told reporters:
We’re not certain at all, we hope to have more information in the coming days.
But, I mean, come on….Why would Ukraine do this to its own territory and people, flood its land, force tens of thousands of people to leave their homes? It doesn’t make sense.
Before/after images of flooded homes along the Dnipro River southeast of Kherson City
Location: 46.604, 32.571
— George Barros (@georgewbarros) June 6, 2023
ORIGINAL ENTRY: Authorities are assessing the scale of the self-inflicted destruction from the demolition of the Nova Kakhovka Dam in southern Ukraine, as thousands of residents were evacuated amid the massive flooding of the Dnipro River in the Kherson region on Tuesday.
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in his nightly address to the nation, “Such deliberate destruction by the Russian occupiers and other structures of the [Kakhovskaya] hydroelectric power station is an environmental bomb of mass destruction.”
Russia has been controlling the dam and the entire Kakhovka HPP for more than a year. It is physically impossible to blow it up somehow from the outside, by shelling. It was mined by the Russian occupiers. And they blew it up.
Russia has detonated a bomb of mass environmental… pic.twitter.com/ki7TAsIsNZ
— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) June 6, 2023
Satellite images indicated that the dam was already in a weakened state after 15 months of Russian occupation, with damage to the top of the dam and one of the sluice gates. The Russians had hindered operations, keeping open only a few gates. In May, water levels in the reservoir reached a 30-year high.
But on Tuesday, a large explosion just before 3 a.m. on Tuesday destroyed one of the supports, taking out a section more than 600 meters (1,900 feet) of the 2 km (3.2 mile) dam. Water from the reservoir rushed through the gap, flooding towns downstream. Houses were swept away. Pets and wild and zoo animals tried to survive.
The UN’s head of humanitarian operations, Martin Griffiths, told the Security Council:
The sheer magnitude of the catastrophe will only become fully realised in the coming days.
But it’s already clear that it will have grave and far-reaching consequences for thousands of people in southern Ukraine on both sides of the front line through the loss of homes, food, safe water, and livelihoods.
Zelenskiy said about 80 settlements were threatened. An estimated 16,000 people are in a “critical zone” on the Ukrainian-controlled right (west) bank of the Dnipro River.
By mid-afternoon, the water level had risen more than 3 meters and was still rising by 6 to 8 cm every 30 minutes. On the right (east) bank of the Dnipro, rescue workers endured Russian fire.
Andrew Negrych, coordinating relief efforts for the US charity Global Empowerment Mission, said, “The biggest difficulty right now is not the water. It’s the Russians on the other side of the river who are shelling us now with artillery.”
In Russian-occupied Nova Kakhovka on the right bank, all 250 animals except ducks and geese drowned at the local zoo. “We tried hard to preserve the zoo during the occupation and now it no longer exists,” said the managers.
A house collapsed in front of its residents amidst a major flood caused by the destruction of a dam at the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant by Russian troopshttps://t.co/rmDeA81oVk 📽️ by Tsaplienko pic.twitter.com/DRom3aVCU8
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) June 7, 2023
Putin’s Mass Destruction?
The Kremlin took no responsibility for the demolition of the dam, instead — after Russian proxy officials initially denied there had been any incident — trying to blame Ukrainian shelling.
But a series of analysts noted that the Russians may have flooded the Kherson region to obstruct Ukrainian forces crossing the Dnipro in an imminent counter-offensive.
Zelenskiy noted that the Russians had mined the dam last autumn. The Ukrainian hydroelectric power corporation said on Tuesday that a bomb had been placed in one of the turbine halls atop the structure.
Zelenskiy’s chief of staff Andriy Yermak added:
Both constructions [the dam and the hydroelectric station] are located in the temporary Russian-occupied territories. Neither shelling nor any other external influence was capable of destroying the structures. The explosion came from within.
“Another Devastating Consequence of the Russian Invasion”
US and Western officials said American intelligence indicated Russia was behind the demolition. Leaders across the world condemned the act without a final declaration of responsibility.
US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told reporters that Washington “cannot say conclusively” who blew up Nova Kakhovka: “We’re doing the best we can to assess”….Destruction of civilian infrastructure is not allowed by the laws of war.”
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak also said it was too soon to make a definitive judgement, but if the explosion was intentional, it would represent a “new low” in Russian aggression.
The European Union’s foreign policy head Josep Borrell warned the attack could be a war crime. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a televised town hall meeting: “By all accounts, this is aggression by the Russian side to stop the Ukrainian offensive, to defend its own country. This shows that this is a new dimension.”
UN secretary general, António Guterres, said he had no independent information about the dam. But he added, “One thing is clear: this is another devastating consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.”