KIEV – Ukrainian officials insist the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, which has triggered massive flooding in the Kherson region, will not hamper Kiev’s counteroffensive.
« Ukraine is equipped with all jet skis and pontoon bridge crossings needed to cross water hazards, » the Armed Forces Strategic Communications Center of Ukraine (Stratcom) said in a statement. declaration on Tuesday. « Ukraine is ready to restore and rebuild the territories liberated from Russian aggression. »
Western leaders including NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and EU High Representative Josep Borrell, among others, have accused Moscow of blowing up the dam, which is located in a area of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces. Kiev claims the Kremlin was trying to flood surrounding areas to make them less accessible to Ukrainian tanks and personnel in a counteroffensive.
Ukraine has warned that Russia has been trying to destroy the dam since last October, when Kiev launched its surprise counter-offensive and recaptured swathes of territory from Moscow’s forces.
Russia later claiming initially the dam had exploded by itself on Tuesday, and he later accused Ukrainian forces of shelling it. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Kiev had sabotaged the dam, which supplied water to the Russian-occupied Crimea peninsula, to deprive it of water.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected this argument, said Tuesday in a video speech at the Bucharest Summit of the Nine: “Russia has controlled the dam and the entire Kakhovka hydroelectric plant for more than a year. It is physically impossible to somehow blow it up from the outside, by bombing. It was undermined by the Russian occupiers. And they blew it up. »
Meanwhile, last week, a Russian government decree suspended requirements to investigate accidents in energy infrastructure in occupied Ukraine.
On Monday, a day before the dam was blown up, the Kremlin said Russia had prevented Ukraine’s counteroffensive. Kiev rejected the idea, saying instead that its forces had managed to recapture some of the territory around Bakhmut, the Donbass city over which Russian forces claimed to have full control.
In the early hours of Tuesday morning, Russia responded with another barrage of airstrikes aimed primarily at Kiev; Ukraine shot down all 35 missiles.
Gabriel Gavin contributed to the reporting.