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Ukraine and Russia on Tuesday blamed each other for blowing up a hydroelectric dam in Ukraine’s Kherson region, currently under Russian occupation, which prompted evacuation after flooding followed the collapse of the dam.
The collapse of the dam in Nova Kakhovka could affect the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest.
Energoatom, the Ukrainian nuclear operator, said in a Telegram post, “On the night of June 6, 2023, the Russian occupationists blew up the Kakhovka dam.”
“Water from the Kakhovka reservoir is needed for the plant to receive power for ZNPP turbine capacitors and safety systems,” Energoatom said, adding that the Kakhovka dam collapse “may have negative consequences for ZNPP but the situation is under control.”
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Tuesday that “the Nova Kakhovka dam was severely damaged leading to a significant reduction in the level of the reservoir used to supply cooling water to the ZNPP.”
But the agency’s Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said, “Our current assessment is that there is no immediate risk to the safety of the plant.”
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that “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.”
“This is the largest man-made environmental disaster in Europe in decades,” he added on Twitter.
The Kremlin blamed Ukraine for the sabotage, with spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying, “We can state unequivocally that we are talking about deliberate sabotage by the Ukrainian side.”
“The Kyiv regime should bear full responsibility for all the consequences,” Peskov said, adding that Ukraine aims to cut off Crimea – controlled by Russia – from fresh water, and to distract from its “faltering” counter-offensive.
By Tsvetana Paraskova for Oilprice.com
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Tsvetana is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing for news outlets such as iNVEZZ and SeeNews.