The UN has strongly criticized Russia for allegedly obstructing aid workers’ access to Russian-occupied areas affected by the recent dam collapse in southern Ukraine. The collapse of the Kakhova dam has led to severe consequences. Including stranded residents, threats to power supplies, and an environmental catastrophe. Exacerbating the dire situation as the conflict enters its 16th month.
Denise Brown, the UN humanitarian coordinator for Ukraine, expressed her concerns in a statement issued late Sunday. The United Nations has been engaged in discussions with both Moscow and Kyiv. As they each control parts of the southern Kherson region where the dam and reservoir are located. However, Russia has so far declined the organization’s request to access the areas under its temporary military control, according to Brown.
The statement called on the Russian authorities to uphold their obligations under international humanitarian law and address the devastating destruction caused by the dam breach.
Dam Collapse Raises Suspicions of Deliberate Russian Action
Recent exclusive drone photos and information obtained by The Associated Press shed light on the situation. Indicating that Russia had the means, motive, and opportunity to deliberately cause the dam explosion. The dam, under Russian control, was reportedly blown up earlier this month. Some analysts speculate that this act was intended to impede Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the Kherson region.
The dam, situated on the Dnieper River, acts as the front line between Russian and Ukrainian forces on the eastern and western banks, respectively. The breach of the dam has further complicated the situation in the region.
In response to the dam’s collapse, the U.K. Defense Ministry revealed that Russia has recently redeployed several thousand troops from the banks of the Dnieper. To strengthen its positions in the Zaporizhzhia and Bakhmut sectors, where heavy fighting has been reported. The ministry suggested that Russia’s decision was influenced by a decreased likelihood of a major Ukrainian offensive across the Dnieper following the dam’s destruction.
Ukrainian Forces Make Progress in Southeastern Ukraine
Meanwhile, Ukrainian Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar announced that Kyiv’s forces have successfully liberated eight settlements within a span of two weeks along the Berdyansk and Melitopol axes in southeastern Ukraine. Maliar claimed that Ukrainian forces have advanced up to seven kilometres (four miles) into territories previously held by Russia. However, it remains challenging to independently verify claims made by either side regarding battlefield developments.
In a separate incident, Ukraine’s Air Force reported that Russia conducted an overnight attack. Using cruise missiles and self-exploding drones in the south and southeast of Ukraine. The Ukrainian forces managed to shoot down four Kalibr missiles and four Iranian-made Shahed drones. The attack targeted the southern province of Odesa and the southeastern Dnipropetrovsk region. But no immediate casualties or damage were reported.
The situation in Ukraine remains highly volatile, with the dam collapse further complicating the ongoing conflict. The international community, particularly the United Nations, continues to urge Russia to fulfil its humanitarian obligations and facilitate aid access to the affected areas.