Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned on Thursday of an impending “large-scale disaster” in southern Ukraine, claiming that Russia mined a dam at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant in the south of the country.
In an address via videolink to EU leaders meeting in Brussels, Zelenskyy said that Ukraine had information showing Russia had already set charges. Should the dam be destroyed, more than 80 settlements — including the port city of Kherson — could be hit by “rapid flooding,” impacting hundreds of thousands of people, he said.
“According to our information, Russia has already prepared everything to carry out this terrorist attack,” he told leaders in his remarks, calling for an international mission of observers to be sent to the Kakhovka plant. “Russia is deliberately creating the grounds for a large-scale disaster in the south of Ukraine.”
The threat comes in the hotly contested south, where Ukrainian forces are clawing back territory from their Russian adversaries on the western bank of the river Dnieper.
The dire warning also follows Iranian drone strikes on Ukrainian cities, that have knocked out infrastructure and hitting civilian targets. More than a third of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure has now been destroyed by Russian cruise missiles and Iranian drones, he said, meaning Ukraine can no longer export electricity.
Zelenskyy also used his address to EU leaders to plead for more air-defense systems as Kyiv tries to combat the aerial threat.
“When we have reliable protection of the sky — that is, a sufficient number and quality of air defense and missile defense systems — we will be able to guarantee a normal economic and social life in Ukraine,” he said.
He also warned Europe that “a new wave of migration” — deliberately stoked by Russia —was on the way for Europe as Ukrainian migrants flee the country owing to the attacks on energy facilities as the winter approaches.
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