Russia has blown up a dam at the Kakhovska hydropower plant in Ukraine’s south, causing a rise in water levels that threatens to flood villages along the Dnipro river.
At least 10 villages on the Dnipro’s western bank, as well as a portion of the city of Kherson, are at risk of flooding, according to the Ukrainian Interior Ministry on Telegram.
“Water will reach critical levels in five hours,” Oleksandr Prokudin, regional governor, said in a video posted on his Telegram channel. The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine’s south, which has been occupied by Russian forces for more than a year, cools its reactors with water from the Kakhovska reservoir.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called an emergency meeting of the nation’s national security and defense council, according to the council’s secretary, Oleksiy Danilov, on Facebook.
The dam was blown up by Russian troops, according to the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ southern military command on Facebook. The extent of the damage, changes in water levels, and areas at risk of flooding were all being assessed early Tuesday.
Although Russia has not officially commented on the incident, Ukraine has repeatedly warned in the past year that Russia may attempt to blow up the dam in order to prevent Ukrainian forces from reclaiming territory in the country’s south that was occupied early in President Vladimir Putin’s February 2022 invasion.
The dam’s destruction, which will result in a lack of water supply for the surrounding area, occurred as Ukraine prepares to launch its long-awaited counteroffensive against Russian troops, including those stationed alongside the Dnipro in the Kherson region.