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Ukraine: Zelenskyy visits flood-hit region after dam breach

Published June 8, 2023last updated June 8, 2023

Zelenskyy visited the flood-hit region of Kherson as rescue efforts continue following the breach of the Kakhovka dam. Meanwhile, Ukraine has denied reports that it launched its counteroffensive. DW has the latest.

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy pictured on a visit to assess flooded areas in Kherson
The Ukrainian leader said he was visiting flood-stricken areas to assess efforts to evacuate civilians and provide them with drinking water and other support Image: REUTERS

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he has visited the flood-hit southern region of Kherson to assess the situation following the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam.

"Many important issues were discussed. The operational situation in the region as a result of the disaster, evacuation of the population from potential flood zones, elimination of the emergency caused by the dam explosion, organization of life support for the flooded areas," Zelenskyy said in a Telegram post.

Zelenskyy also expressed concern about a lack of support following the destruction of the dam.

It comes as the first deaths were reported following the breach of the dam in the Russian-occupied area of southern Ukraine.

"The situation in occupied parts of the Kherson region is absolutely catastrophic. The occupiers are simply abandoning people in frightful conditions. No help, without water, left on the roofs of houses in submerged communities," Zelenskyy said.

Flooding from the breach extends over 600 square kilometers on the Ukrainian-held right bank of the Dnieper River and the Russian-held left bank, the governor of the Kherson region said.

Ukraine denies fresh reports of counter-offensive: Defense analyst Marina Miron speaks to DW

"The average level of flooding is 5.61 meters. 600 square kilometers of the Kherson region are under water, of which 32 percent is the right bank and 68 percent is the left bank," Oleksandr Prokudin, said on social media.

Russian state-owned news agency Tass reported emergency services have said that up to 14,000 homes have been flooded, and nearly 4,300 people evacuated in Russian areas. 

The state emergency service of Ukraine said 1,995 people had been evacuated from flooded areas, including 103 children.

The reason for the dam's collapse remains unclear. Ukraine blamed Russia for blowing up the structure while some experts said it might have been due to wartime damage and neglect. 

Russia accused Ukraine at the UN's top court of destroying the dam with artillery strikes.

"Ukraine has declared that Russia blew up the large dam at Nova Kakhovka. In fact, it's Ukraine that did it," Russian diplomat Alexander Shulgin told the court in The Hague. 

Ukraine demands more aid for dam disaster

Here are some of the other developments concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Thursday, June 8:

Ukraine says Kherson shelled after Zelenskyy's visit

The Ukrainian Interior Ministry said nine people were injured in Russian shelling in the Kherson region, adding that there were "no dead." 

Oleksandr Prokudin, the regional governor, said a doctor and a German volunteer were among those wounded. 

The Prosecutor General's office had said earlier that one person was killed in the shelling. 

Ukraine war: Russian shelling hits flood-hit Kherson

Russia says it thwarted Ukrainian attack in Zaporizhzhia

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said his country's forces repelled large-scale overnight attempts by Ukrainian soldiers to break through the frontline in the southern Zaporizhzhia region.

"The enemy was detected in time by our reconnaissance forces and a preventative strike was delivered by our artillery and aviation forces and using anti-tank weapons," Shoigu said in a statement, in which he also alleged that Ukraine lost 30 tanks, 11 armored infantry vehicles and up to 350 soldiers.

Moscow's claims could not be independently verified. Some Russian and Western officials have suggested that such reports imply that Ukraine has launched its long-awaited counteroffensive

US media outlets Washington Post and NBC have reported, citing unnamed Ukrainian officials, that the operation has started. But Reuters news agency quoted an unnamed Ukrainian military spokesperson as saying: "We have no such information. And we do not comment on anonymous sources."  

Zelenskyy denies Ukraine sabotaged Nord Stream pipelines — report

Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has denied that his government was involved in the sabotage of the Nord Stream gas pipelines in comments to German publishing group Axel Springer.

"I am the president and I give orders accordingly. Nothing of the sort has been done by Ukraine. I would never act that way," Zelenskyy said and asked for evidence of Ukrainian involvement.

Zelenskyy's comments came after a Washington Post report which gave details about the US government having learned from a European intelligence report about a covert plan by Ukraine's armed forces to attack the pipelines with divers.

The details of the report could not be verified, however, according to the Post, the CIA handed on the information to European countries including Germany.

The United States and NATO have called the Nord Stream explosions "an act of sabotage" by an unknown actor, while Russia has blamed the West.

Neither side has provided evidence for their claims.

Zelenskyy visits flood-hit region of Kherson

'Heavy fighting' along the front — British military intelligence

The UK's Ministry of Defence (MOD) said that the current operational situation was "highly complex" and that "heavy fighting continues along multiple sectors of the front."

In its daily intelligence briefing, the MOD pointed out that Ukrainian forces were holding the initiative in most areas in question.

The MOD said that it was likely that Russian forces were receiving orders to return to the offensive as soon as possible however Chechen units had failed in an attempt to take the town of Marivka situated near Donetsk city.

Regarding the breach of the Kakhovka dam, the MOD said that flood levels would likely begin receding throughout Thursday. Shelling was said to be complicating evacuation efforts of displaced civilians from flooded areas. 

Russia welcomes African peace mission — South Africa's Ramaphosa

The Kremlin has welcomed an African initiative to send a peace delegation to Russia and Ukraine, according to South African President Cyril Ramaphosa's office.

"(Russian President Vladimir Putin) has welcomed the initiative by African Heads of State and expressed his desire to receive the peace mission," the South African presidency said after a phone call between the two heads of state.

The delegation, made up of a number of leaders of African countries, is expected to visit Ukraine and Russia in June.

Putin and Ramaphosa also discussed the Russia-Africa summit that is scheduled to be held in St. Petersburg in late July, Pretoria said.

EU agency calls for long-term integration of Ukrainian refugees

European Union governments should prepare to integrate refugees from Ukraine permanently, the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) has said.

The agency said in its annual report in Vienna that current aid measures should focus on women and children, who make up the majority of refugees.

Some 8.3 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia's invasion in early 2022, according to the UN refugee agency, UNHCR. Of those, 5.1 million have temporary protection under special arrangements without them having to apply for asylum in the EU, Norway and Switzerland.

The FRA lauded some EU countries, including Germany, where the accommodation of refugees is centrally regulated by the state or distributed in a balanced way within the country.

"Still, the capacity and suitability of public accommodation is limited by insufficient funding and lack of long-term solutions," it said.

The report called for language training, integration of Ukrainian children into schools and kindergartens and help to their mothers to find work.

Special assistance is required for women who have experienced sexual violence or exploitation, the report noted.

Replacement plane for Air India flights leaves Russia

A replacement plane for an Air India flight that was diverted to Russia because of an engine problem has left for San Francisco with all passengers and crew.

The Boeing 777 left New Delhi carrying 216 passengers and 16 crew members for the US. It was diverted to land at Magadan airport in Siberia on Tuesday because the plane developed a technical issue with one of its engines, Air India had said.

The replacement plane is expected to arrive to San Francisco at 12:15 am Thursday local time.

US State Department spokesperson Vedant Patel said that fewer than 50 American citizens were on the flight and the department was not aware of any of them reaching out to the US Embassy in Russia.

"The Russian soldiers, the Russian police, the authorities, everyone working in the hostel has been treating us extremely well," said passenger Girvaan Singh Kahma, 16, adding that they were barred from leaving the hostel in Magadan and were unable to use their credit cards because of sanctions over Russia's war in Ukraine.

kb,mk/lo (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)