Ukrainian officials on Tuesday insisted that the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, which unleashed massive flooding — in the Russian-occupied Kherson region — won't stand in the way of Kyiv's counteroffensive.
"Ukraine," the Strategic Communications Center of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said, "is equipped with all the necessary watercraft and pontoon bridge crossings for crossing water obstacles. Ukraine is ready to restore and rebuild the territories liberated from Russian aggression."
In the aftermath of the dam's destruction, numerous highly esteemed dignitaries, such as NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and EU High Representative Josep Borrell, came out accusing Moscow of intentionally destroying a dam in a region of Ukraine that is currently occupied by Russian forces. The claims follow a similar trajectory made by Western officials in the past who accused Moscow of blowing up its own Nord Stream pipeline and sending a drone strike into the Kremlin.
As per the Ukrainian government's statement, the Kremlin's objective was to inundate the Kherson region with flood waters to impede the mobility of Ukrainian tanks and personnel in the event of a counterattack.
On Tuesday, the Russian installed Mayor of Novaya Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontiev, accused Ukraine of blowing up its own dam.
"This crime," Leontiev says, "cannot be written off. This is a terrorist act directed against civilians — Ukrainians did it."
Additionally, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov claimed Kyiv had sabotaged the dam, which supplied water to the Russian-occupied Crimean peninsula, to deprive it of water, according to Politico.
But Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy rejected the argument, stating instead to adherents at a summit that "Russia has been controlling the dam and the entire Kakhovka HPP for more than a year. It is physically impossible to blow it up somehow from the outside, by shelling. It was mined by the Russian occupiers. And they blew it up."
Following the destruction of the Kakhovka Dam on early Tuesday morning, Kyiv and Moscow launched a series of accusations about who's responsible, but according to a report from The Washington Post in late December, a Ukrainian military officer suggested blowing up the dam could be a means for a last resort.
Ukraine's Major General Andrey Kovalchuk, the former commander of November's Kherson Counteroffensive, tells The Post how he intended to blow up the dam.
"Kovalchuk considered flooding the river," The Post writes. "The Ukrainians, he said, even conducted a test strike with a HIMARS launcher on one of the floodgates at the Nova Kakhovka dam, making three holes in the metal to see if the Dnieper's water could be raised enough to stymie Russian crossings but not flood nearby villages. The test was a success, Kovalchuk said, but the step remained a last resort. He held off."
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