Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the Russian attack on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure was aimed at creating a new wave of refugees.
In a video address to the European Council, Zelensky said after failing to harness energy resources as weapons against Europe, “the current Russian leadership has ordered the energy system itself to be turned into a battlefield. It’s very dangerous for all of us.”
“Attacks by Russian cruise missiles and Iranian drones have destroyed more than a third of our energy infrastructure,” he said. “For this reason, unfortunately, we are no longer able to export electricity to maintain stability.”
After days of devastating Russian attacks on its energy infrastructure, the country has lost at least 40% of its power generation capacity. Ukrainian authorities warned earlier this week that both emergency and rolling blackouts would continue.
Zelensky added: Russian terrorism against our energy installations is aimed at creating as many problems as possible with electricity and heat in Ukraine this autumn and winter and forcing as many Ukrainians as possible to leave your country. ”
Important dams mined: Zelensky also alleged that Russia was causing a massive catastrophe in southern Ukraine, with Russian forces mining a critical dam on the Dnipro river south of Kherson and an adjacent hydroelectric power plant.
“There is information that Russian terrorists have mined the dam and units of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant,” Zelensky told the Council of Europe in a video address.
“This hydroelectric dam holds about 18 million cubic meters of water.
“If Russian terrorists blow up this dam, more than 80 settlements, including Kherson, will fall into a zone of rapid flooding. Hundreds of thousands of people could suffer. This Russian terrorist attack could lead to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant running out of water for cooling.ZNPP’s water is taken from the Kakhovka Reservoir.
CNN has asked the Russian Ministry of Defense to address the allegations.
Dams and hydroelectric power plants are operating at greatly reduced capacity after the area was occupied by Russian forces in March. Ukrainian forces are located approximately 40 kilometers (more than 24 miles) north of the dam. Over the past four months, it has launched several strikes against the bridges that form part of the dam to prevent its use by Russian forces.
Separately, Mikhail Podlyak, the chief of staff of the Ukrainian president’s office, said on Thursday that Russia had mined dams and transformers, deported Ukrainian civilians from Kherson, and threatened Ukrainian forces in the region. It said it was flooding to deter counterattacks. The land south and east of the river is lowland.
“Russia is preparing a man-made disaster,” said Podoljak.
Statements by pro-Moscow officials: The Russian-appointed mayor of Nova Kakhovka governorate Vladimir Leontyev told Russian state media TASS that it makes no sense for Russia to destroy the power plant’s dam.
“What’s the point of Russia destroying it now? Even from a formal point of view, this is nonsense. This is absolutely nonsense,” said Leontief.
“First of all, we need to think about who will benefit from it: the possibility of destroying hydroelectric power plants, dams, disrupting logistics, sowing fear and panic, and water supply through water. It is only beneficial for Ukraine to stop the North Crimean Canal into Crimean territory, according to TASS.