The United Nations has no further intelligence on how the dam at the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant in Ukraine was breached but considers the event to be “another devastating consequence of Russia’s invasion,” U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres has said.
On Tuesday evening, an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council (UNSC) was convened at the request of both Russia and Ukraine to discuss the dam breach.
Both parties accused the other of blowing up the dam, which has caused widespread devastation to the surrounding area, including a dozen towns and a part of the city of Kherson.
“The deliberate sabotage undertaken by Kyiv against a critical infrastructure facility is extremely dangerous and can essentially be classified as a war crime or an act of terrorism,” said Russia’s U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia, while his Ukrainian counterpart, Sergiy Kyslytsya, said the same about Moscow.
“The attacks on civilians and vital civilian infrastructure must stop. We must act to ensure accountability and respect for international humanitarian law,” Guterres stressed in a statement to journalists.
“Huge flooding, widespread evacuations, environmental devastation… Newly sown crops have been lost, and the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant, Europe’s largest nuclear facility, is under threat,” the U.N. secretary-general added.
The breach of the dam has released a huge body of water on the Dnipro River, which separates Russian and Ukrainian forces, flooding large areas of the battlefield and forcing the inhabitants of the surrounding settlements to flee.
Ukraine accused Russia of “ecological and technological terrorism” while Moscow described the incident as sabotage by Kyiv’s leadership. Guterres said it was a large-scale humanitarian, economic and environmental disaster.
At least 16,000 people have lost their homes, and the supply of clean and safe drinking water to thousands more is at risk.
The U.N.’s top diplomat revealed that the world body is in talks with the Ukrainian government to send drinking water and water purification tablets to the region.