Don’t let Russia blow up key dam
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has called on the West to warn Russia not to blow up a hydroelectric dam that would flood a swath of southern Ukraine, as his forces prepare to push Moscow's troops from Kherson in one of the war's most important battles.
In a television address yesterday, Zelensky said Russian forces had planted explosives inside the huge Nova Kakhovka dam, which holds back an enormous reservoir that dominates much of southern Ukraine, and were planning to blow it up to cover their retreat.
"Now everyone in the world must act powerfully and quickly to prevent a new Russian terrorist attack. Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster," he said.
Russia accused Kyiv earlier this week of planning to rocket the dam. Sergei Surovikin, the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, said Ukrainian forces had already used US-supplied HIMARS missiles against it in what Ukrainian officials called a sign Moscow could be planning to blow it up and blame Kyiv.
The vast Dnipro bisects Ukraine and is several km wide in places. Bursting the dam could send a wall of water flooding settlements below it, including much of the city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces hope to recapture in a major advance, reports Reuters.
Zelensky called on world leaders to make clear that blowing up the dam would be treated "exactly the same as the use of weapons of mass destruction", with similar consequences to those threatened if Russia uses nuclear or chemical weapons.
The United States said on Thursday that Iranian troops were in Crimea and had helped fly the drones to attack Ukraine.
"We can confirm that Russian military personnel based in Crimea have been piloting Iranian UAVs and using them to conduct kinetic strikes across Ukraine, including in strikes against Kyiv in recent days," US State Department spokesman Ned Price told a briefing.
Iran has denied supplying the drones, as has Moscow.