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Severe flooding on the Dnieper River: Levels are rising

Photo: Satellite image / dpa

This is what Kiev says

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has criticised international aid agencies for their alleged passivity following the flood disaster caused by a dam explosion. "Every dead person is a verdict for the existing international architecture, for international organizations that have forgotten how to save lives," he said in his daily video address on Wednesday evening. He did not specify how many Ukrainians died as a result of the floods.

Instead, he spoke of 2000,<> people who had been rescued in the Ukrainian part of the Kherson region, which was particularly affected by the floods. However, the situation in the Russian-occupied part of the area is difficult. Zelensky accused Russian troops of abandoning the people there – and torpedoing Ukrainian rescue attempts. In this context, he criticized international aid organizations such as the Red Cross, which he believes should be more active in this region.

On the other hand, he expressed his gratitude for bilateral aid pledges from abroad. He spoke on the phone with French President Emmanuel Macron and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and discussed concrete offers of help, he said.

On Tuesday night, the Kakhovka dam of the Dnieper River was severely damaged by an explosion. Ukraine and the West blame Russia for the destruction. Moscow denies this and, in turn, accuses Kiev of shelling the dam for military considerations.

"When we are on the ground, we will collect evidence," Zelensky said in an interview with the media "Welt", "Bild" and "Politico". As soon as Ukraine controls the dam, it will invite all international experts to investigate the incident.

According to the interview, Zelensky considers Russia's responsibility for what happened to be proven. "It happened in an occupied territory," he said. A year ago, Ukraine announced that, according to its information, something would happen and that the dam would be mined. It was clear that there was a high risk of blowing up the dam.

At the time of the dam burst, there was no shelling, Zelensky continued. In addition, experts are of the opinion that such a fracture could not have been caused by shelling.

Ukraine and Russia blame each other for the explosion that partially destroyed the dam on the Dnieper River on Tuesday night. Huge amounts of water leaked and flooded vast areas of southern Ukraine. Thousands of people have already been evacuated, and there are growing concerns about an impending environmental catastrophe.

Zelensky acknowledged that the partial destruction of the dam and its consequences would have an impact on his country's counteroffensive to push back the Russian army. "What is happening right now is a tragedy. An environmental catastrophe and a human catastrophe," he said. That doesn't help us with the counteroffensive, it doesn't make the counteroffensive any easier."

He severely reproached the Russian troops on the southern bank of the Dnieper River, which they had conquered: "If our forces try to get the people out, they will be fired upon by the occupiers from a distance."

Zelensky on the attack on Nord Stream

Zelensky denied his government's involvement in the sabotage actions on the Nord Stream 1 and 2 gas pipelines. Ukraine has done nothing of the kind. I would never act like that," Zelenskyy said in the interview. Asked about an article in the Washington Post, he demanded evidence of Ukrainian involvement.

The article published in the Washington Post on Tuesday said that three months before the explosions in September 2022, the U.S. government learned of a plan by the Ukrainian military from a European intelligence agency. The report said that Ukraine was planning a secret attack on the pipelines with the help of divers who were directly subordinate to the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. SPIEGEL had already reported in September that the CIA had warned the German government of an attack scenario on the Baltic Sea pipelines in the run-up to the explosions.

Help after dam disaster

After the destruction of the dam, French President Emmanuel Macron has condemned the attack on the structure and assured Ukraine of rapid aid. "We will send aid in the very next few hours to meet immediate needs," Macron said after a phone call with Zelensky. "I was able to express my solidarity with President Zelensky with his people after the attack on the Kakhovka Dam. France condemns this heinous act, which puts the population in danger."

According to the Élysée Palace, the Crisis and Support Center of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will very quickly launch a first convoy with about ten tons of the products requested by the Ukrainians in the field of health, hygiene, water treatment and portable tanks. Macron also spoke with UN Secretary-General António Guterres about the situation in Ukraine.

The Federal Agency for Technical Relief (THW) has sent eight trucks with relief supplies to Ukraine to provide emergency aid after the dam incident. They are expected there on Friday or Saturday, said THW President Gerd Friedsam in the ARD "Tagesthemen". Initially, drinking water filters and power generators would be supplied. "And we are now supplementing this with accommodation material, such as tents, blankets, camp beds," Friedsam added.

The aid is based on the requirements of the Ukrainian civil protection authorities. Ukraine has signaled that it has enough aid workers on the ground. Friedsam pointed out that mines and remnants of ammunition pose a particular danger in the Ukrainian flood region, also for the aid workers. They are a "severe hindrance" to the relief work and must first be eliminated before the helpers can work safely.

According to the World Bank, it wants to help Ukraine with a swift assessment of the damage caused by the floods and the needs. The destruction of the dam has "many very serious consequences for the provision of basic services and the environment in general," writes Anna Bjerde, managing director of operations at the World Bank, on the short message service Twitter. Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal also said on Twitter that Bjerde had assured him that the World Bank would make a rapid assessment of the damage and needs.

What's happening today

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has announced an emergency meeting with Ukraine over the "outrageous destruction" of the dam. The incident "displaced thousands of people and caused an ecological catastrophe in Ukraine," Stoltenberg said. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba will take part in the meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission via video link.

Kuleba wrote on Twitter that the meeting was taking place at his request. Stoltenberg had promised that "NATO mechanisms will be used to provide humanitarian aid".