June 16, 2023
Eco-crisis unleashed. Consequences of Kakhovka Dam destruction trigger international investigation
June 2023, Ukraine. A child against the backdrop of a city flooded after the Khakhovka Dam collapse.
On June 6, 2023, the Kakhovka Dam, the largest object of this type in Ukraine, was blown up. The explosion caused a massive catastrophe for the region’s residents and the environment, prompting an investigation from the International Criminal Court (ICC).
Currently located on Russian-occupied territory in southern Ukraine, in the city of Nova Kakhovka in the Kherson region, the dam on the Dnipro River was a major hydroelectric power provider and secured water needed for the cooling systems of nearby Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station. The destruction of the dam resulted in large swathes of land below to be flooded.
Ukrainian Interior Minister Ihor Klymenko posted on Facebook that “2,718 people were evacuated, including 190 children, and that five people had died due to the accident and 35 are currently considered missing, among whom seven are children”.
Later, the Ukrainian authorities informed that 40,000 people needed to be evacuated.
June 2023, Ukraine. 40,000 people had to be evacuated following the collapse of the dam in Nova Khakhovka, according to the Ukrainian authorities.
Zelensky strongly denounced the assault on the Kakhovka dam. In a recent national address, he referred to the attack as an “environmental bomb of mass destruction” and on June 11 announced that the ICC in Hague launched an investigation into the breach of the dam, as it can be considered a war crime.
Russian President Vladimir Putin denied Russia’s responsibility for the explosion and labelled the destruction of a strategic object as “barbaric.”
The responsibility for the destruction of the Kakhovka dam remains officially unattributed, as there are no independent experts present there, but available data indicate that Russia destroyed the object to impede the Ukrainian counteroffensive.
The attack raised concerns about the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station but the damage to Ukraine’s environment didn’t stop there. On Monday June 12, a smaller dam located in the Donetsk region was blasted. Again, Ukraine accused Russian forces of purposefully demolishing it in order to hinder Kyiv’s counteroffensive, claiming that these efforts were unsuccessful.
According to experts, the occurrence of such events has the potential to trigger grave ramifications for the environment extending beyond regional boundaries.