Putin calls Kakhovka dam attack a ‘barbaric act’

Thursday, Jun 08, 2023

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday called the attack on the Russian-occupied Kakhovka dam, which Moscow has blamed on Ukraine, a “barbaric act”, in his first public reaction to the situation. Putin told Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call that the breach was “a barbaric act which has led to a large-scale environmental and humanitarian catastrophe”, the Kremlin said in a statement.

The breach of the dam in southern Ukraine, which provides cooling water for Europe’s largest nuclear plant, took place as Ukrainian troops prepared to go on the offensive to recover lost territory. Both Ukraine and Russia are blaming each other for the disaster.Russia claimed that Ukraine sabotaged the dam to distract attention from the new counteroffensive it said was “faltering”. Ukraine has suggested Moscow blew it up to try to prevent Ukrainian forces crossing the Dnipro in their attack. Earlier, a senior Ukrainian official warned of the danger posed by floating mines unearthed by flooding and the spread of disease and hazardous chemicals as he inspected damage caused by the collapse of the dam.

Visiting the city of Kherson on the Dnipro river, Deputy Prime Minister Oleksandr Kubrakov said more than 80 settlements had been affected in the disaster. Although it denies blowing up the dam, Moscow has engaged in a campaign of air strikes against Ukraine’s energy system in which Kyiv says infrastructure of other dams has been damaged. Blaming the dam’s collapse on Russia, Kubrakov said: “They did it in order to free up troops in this direction by flooding this bit of the frontline.”