Russia has denied the UN humanitarian mission access to the areas affected by the destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam.
“The Russian government has so far rejected our request for access to areas under its temporary military control. The UN will continue to work on obtaining the necessary access. <…> We cannot deny assistance to people who need it”, UN Humanitarian Coordinator in Ukraine Denise Brown said in a statement.
The international organization called on the Russian authorities “to act in accordance with its obligations under international humanitarian law” and pledged to seek the necessary access to the affected areas occupied by Russia.
Moscow is ready to grant UN humanitarian groups access to the left bank of the Dnieper River, but only under Russian law – through Russian-occupied territory, Gennady Gatilov, Russian permanent representative to the UN Office in Geneva, said last week.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky earlier called on the international community to help save flood victims and accused Russia of not providing “any real assistance to people in flooded areas”.
“In the occupied territory, you can only help people in some areas – the Russian terrorists are doing everything to make sure there are as many victims of the disaster as possible”, Zelensky said last week.
The collapse of the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam, which was controlled by Russia, occurred on June 6. As a result, flooding began in southern Ukraine and parts of the Kherson region occupied by the Russian army.
By June 18, the death toll reached 52: Russian-appointed occupation authorities reported 35 flood victims, while the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said the death toll was 17. More than 11,000 were evacuated from both sides.
The cause of the collapse of the Kakhovka HPP dam could have been an explosion in a technical tunnel, The New York Times wrote, citing a video of the consequences of the dam collapse, which does not show the concrete base. Access to this base was only possible through a technical tunnel. Access to it was controlled by Russian troops.
This version was confirmed by Ukrainian engineer Igor Strelets, who spent several months at the hydropower plant. According to him, the foundation of the dam was made to withstand almost any external impact. He considers the explosion in the tunnel the only explanation for the failure of the concrete foundation, which caused the dam to collapse under water pressure.
In addition, data from seismic sensors in Ukraine and Romania, as well as thermal signals detected by U.S. reconnaissance satellites, attest to the explosion.
Ukraine blamed Russia for the undermining of the hydroelectric dam. The Kremlin called the destruction of the dam a “deliberate sabotage” by Kyiv.