Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure are aimed at creating a new wave of refugees.
In a video address to the European Council, after failing to use energy resources as a weapon against Europe, Zelenskyy said: “The current Russian leadership has ordered to turn the energy system itself into a battlefield. The consequences of this are very dangerous, again for all of us in Europe.”
“Attacks by Russian cruise missiles and Iranian attack drones have destroyed more than a third of our energy infrastructure,” he said. “As a result, unfortunately, we are no longer able to export electricity to help you maintain stability.”
Days of devastating Russian attacks on energy infrastructure have caused the country to lose at least 40% of its electricity generation capacity. Ukrainian officials warned earlier this week that both emergencies and planned power outages would follow.
Zelenskyi added: “Russia is also provoking a new wave of migration of Ukrainians to EU countries. Russia’s terror against our energy facilities aims to cause as many problems as possible with electricity and heat in Ukraine this autumn and winter and to get as many Ukrainians as possible to go to your countries.”
Critical dam dismantled: Zelensky also claimed that Russia is creating grounds for a large-scale disaster in southern Ukraine, with Russian forces dismantling a critical dam on the Dnipro River in the southern Kherson region, as well as the adjacent hydroelectric power station.
“We have information that Russian terrorists mined the dam and units of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant,” Zelenskyi told the Council of Europe during a video address.
“The dam of this hydroelectric power station holds about 18 million cubic meters of water.
“If Russian terrorists blow this dam, more than 80 settlements, including Kherson, will be in the rapid flood zone. Hundreds of thousands of people can suffer from it. The water supply of a large part of southern Ukraine could be destroyed. This Russian terrorist attack could leave the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant without cooling water – water for ZNPP is taken from the Kakhovka reservoir. ”
CNN has contacted Russia’s Defense Ministry for a response to the allegations.
The dam and hydroelectric power station operated at greatly reduced capacity as the area was captured by Russian forces in March. Ukrainian forces are about 40 kilometers (more than 24 miles) north of the dam. In the past four months, they have launched several attacks against the bridge, which is part of the causeway, to prevent the Russian military from using it.
Separately, Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to the head of the Ukrainian President’s Office, said on Twitter on Thursday that Russia plans to mine the dam and transformers to force the deportation of Ukrainian civilians from Kherson and flood areas to support the Ukrainian counteroffensive to stop in the region. The land south and east of the river is low.
“Russia is preparing for a man-made catastrophe,” said Podolyak.
What pro-Moscow officials say: The Russian-appointed head of the Nova Kakhovka district, Vladimir Leontyev, told the Russian state media TASS that it made no sense for Russia to destroy the dam at the power plant.
“What sense does Russia have in destroying it now? From a formal point of view, too, this is nonsense. That’s absolute nonsense,” Leontiev said.
“First of all, it is necessary to think about who will benefit: it is only beneficial for Ukraine to destroy the dam, hydroelectric power station, disrupt logistics, sow fear and panic, stop the possibility of water supply through Ukraine through the North Crimean Canal to the territory of Crimea,” he said, according to TASS.