Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Latest news on Russia and the war in Ukraine

Here’s what we know so far about the Nova Kakhovka dam blast

The destruction of a major Ukrainian dam could have a number of serious consequences — officials are sounding the alarm over an “ecological disaster” because of massive flooding.

The breach has stoked concern about the status of Europe’s nuclear power plant, which receives cooling water from the reservoir upstream, while international policymakers have condemned the blast as a “war crime.”

Russia and Ukraine accused each other’s forces of an intentional attack on the Nova Kakhovka dam. CNBC has not been able to independently verify the claims.

Here’s a look at what we know so far.

— Sam Meredith

Russia begins to evacuate residents near breached dam

Russia has reportedly started to evacuate citizens affected by flooding following damage to the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam.

Kommersant newspaper reported that Vladimir Leontiev, the Russian-installed mayor of Nova Kakhovka where the dam is located in a Russian-occupied part of Kherson in southern Ukraine, had initiated the evacuation of residents of houses flooded due to major damage to the dam.

Leontiev initially said there was no damage to the dam but later said the damage had been caused by “night attacks” by Ukraine, without presenting evidence, and said artillery attacks continue on the city. Ukraine says Russia attacked the dam.

A partially flooded area of Kherson on June 6, 2023, following damage sustained at the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam.

Sergiy Dollar | Afp | Getty Images

Kommersant cited Leontiev as saying that the evacuation of residents of about 300 houses on the banks of the Dnipro River in Nova Kakhovka had begun.

“Now we are resettling citizens who are directly on the shore. The city continues to be subjected to rocket attacks right now. I think that the residents of about 300 houses will be evacuated and are already being evacuated in order to avoid casualties,” he said on the Rossiya-24 TV channel.

Leontiev clarified that initially no one planned to carry out a large-scale evacuation, but in the end it was decided that people should be taken to “safe places” after the scale of the incident became clear.

The official believed that the evacuation of the entire city was not necessary and was quoted as saying: “According to forecasts, within 72 hours the water will fall to the usual level. But we need to survive these 72 hours.”

Leontiev said a decision may be made in the near future to evacuate residents and other settlements of the Russian-controlled part of the Kherson region, but “everything here will depend on the current situation and the situation, no one gives any forecasts.”

‘The water is coming’: Evacuation complicated as floodwaters cut off escape routes

Emergency evacuations are ongoing in southern Ukraine as a major incident unfolds following severe damage to the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam.

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy held an emergency meeting of the National Security Council on Tuesday after it said Russia had “blown up” the dam. Russia denies involvement, instead blaming Ukraine.

Zelenskyy said 80 settlements in the southern Kherson region are now in the flooding zone, with most of them being occupied by Russian forces.

“It was ordered to carry out evacuation from risk areas and to provide drinking water to all cities and villages that were supplied with water from the Kakhovsky Reservoir,” Zelenskyy said on Telegram in comments translated by NBC.

“We do everything to save people. All services, military, Government, Office are involved,” he added.

Zelenskyy accused Russia of attacking the dam, saying Moscow would be held to account. Russia denies responsibility for the damage, instead accusing Ukraine of attacking the structure.

A partially flooded area of Kherson on June 6, 2023, following damage at the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam.

Sergiy Dollar | Afp | Getty Images

A massive amount of water has been seen surging through the severely damaged down, putting towns and cities downstream at risk.

Ukrainian Minister of Internal Affairs Ihor Klymenko posted on Facebook that “the task of the State Emergency Service of Ukraine and the police now is to evacuate people as much as possible, to save them from the consequences of another terrorist attack by the evil empire,” referring to Russia.

“About 80 settlements are in the area of potential flooding. Most of them are temporarily occupied by the enemy,” he said, adding that “the water is coming.”

“The situation is complicated by the fact that some roads are being washed away which makes it impossible to reach some settlements,” Klymenko warned, saying evacuation teams are looking for other routes to get to people. 

As of 11:00 a.m. local time, 885 citizens in the Kherson region had been evacuated, according to Ukraine’s interior ministry.

— Holly Ellyatt

Zelenskyy posts video showing water surging through dam

A screen grab from a video on Zelenskyy’s social media account shows the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant after a blast on June 6, 2023. The explosion has unleashed floodwaters across the war zone.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has held an emergency meeting of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine following what Kyiv said was an attack on the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam.

Earlier Tuesday, Zelenskyy said he had convened the meeting after the destruction of a part of the dam. He blamed the attack on “Russian terrorists.” Russia has denied attacking the dam, instead accusing Ukraine of undermining the structure.

Zelenskyy and other Ukrainian officials posted a video purportedly showing the dam being breached and flooding downstream.

Thousands of people living downstream of the dam have been urged to evacuate their homes amid fears of huge destruction in the southern Kherson region that’s partially occupied by Russian forces.

Andrii Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president’s office, said on Telegram that the destruction of the Kakhovka HPP “is the biggest man-made disaster in the world in recent decades, which kills the environment and will negatively affect the lives of hundreds of thousands of people in the years to come.”

Yermak and other officials believe Russia attacked the dam in order to block Ukraine’s counteroffensive.

Russia claimed Ukraine was conducting artillery strikes on the area of the dam. CNBC was unable to verify the claims made by either side.

Holly Ellyatt

Ukraine says destruction of major dam poses threat to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant

Ukraine’s state power agency said the destruction of a major dam in a Russian-controlled area of the country poses an additional threat to Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, but the situation is under control.

Ukraine’s Energoatom said via Telegram, according to a translation, that “the water level in the Kakhov reservoir is rapidly decreasing, which is an additional threat to the temporarily occupied” Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

“Water from the Kakhovka Reservoir is necessary for the station to receive power for turbine capacitors and safety systems of the ZNPP. The station’s cooling pond is now full: as of 8:00 a.m., the water level is 16.6 meters, which is sufficient for the station’s needs,” the agency said.

Separately, the International Atomic Energy Agency said via Twitter that it’s aware of the reported damage at the dam and experts are closely monitoring the situation at the nuclear power plant. The U.N.’s nuclear watchdog added there was no “immediate safety risk” at the site.

— Sam Meredith

Ukraine says major dam ‘blown up’ by Russian forces, begins evacuations

Ukraine has begun emergency evacuations of residents in parts of the southern Kherson region after warning that the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant had been “blown up” by Russian forces Tuesday.

Ukrainian officials warned of potentially devastating flooding in the area and called on residents in 11 areas to leave.

“The water level is rising and everyone who is in the danger zone must: turn off all electrical appliances take documents and essentials take care of loved ones and pets follow the instructions of rescuers and policemen,” Ukraine’s interior ministry said.

The South command of Ukraine’s Armed Forces said on its Facebook page that the facility had been “blown up” by Russian forces and that “the scale of the destruction, the speed and volume of water, and the probable areas of flooding are being clarified.”

CNBC and NBC News have not been able to independently verify Ukraine’s claims.

Russia denied damaging the dam, claiming instead that Ukraine had undermined the structure. Vladimir Leontiev, the Russian-installed mayor of Nova Kakhovka, the city where the dam is located, said “night attacks” on the facility had “led to the destruction of the valves” and that “water from the Kakhovka reservoir began to uncontrollably be discharged downstream,” he said, Russian state news agency TASS reported.

Leontiev said there was still no need to evacuate the inhabitants of Nova Kakhovka but said “we are preparing for the worst consequences, but we hope that they will not happen.” He had initially denied there was damage to the dam.

Russia says it thwarted large-scale Ukrainian offensive in Donetsk

Russia’s Ministry of Defense said on Telegram that its forces on Sunday morning fought back a large-scale Ukrainian offensive along five points in the southern direction of the annexed Ukrainian region of Donetsk, according to a Google translation.

Russia said Ukraine deployed six mechanized and two tank battalions as part of the offensive.

The enemy’s goal was to break through our defenses on the most vulnerable, in his opinion, sector of the front,” the Russian ministry said. “The enemy did not achieve his tasks, he had no success.”

CNBC could not independently verify those claims.

The daily report of the Ukrainian General Staff only stated Monday that 29 clashes took place near the Luhansk and Donetsk regions on Sunday, according to a Google translation.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense published no public statements linked to the alleged attack. Kyiv’s minister of defense, Oleksii Reznikov, on Sunday posted on Twitter lyrics of Depeche Mode’s song “Enjoy the Silence,” stating “Words are very unnecessary / They can only do harm,” alongside a GIF of a soldier miming a bid for silence.

Ruxandra Iordache

Ukraine says it destroyed a Russian position near Bakhmut

The commander of Ukraine’s ground forces on Monday said Kyiv had destroyed a Russian position near the embattled city of Bakhmut in eastern Ukraine.

“The defense forces are working. We continue moving forward,” Oleksandr Syrskyi said on Telegram, according to a Google translation.

CNBC could not independently verify developments on the ground.

Bakhmut is of both symbolic and strategic importance to Russia, providing a stepping stone for Moscow’s forces to advance into the cities of Kramatorsk and Sloviansk in the Donetsk region.

Ruxandra Iordache

Turkey, Finland and Sweden to discuss Stockholm’s NATO bid on June 12

Turkey, Finland and Sweden will meet June 12 to discuss Stockholm’s bid to join the NATO military alliance, which has so far been stalled by Ankara’s objections, according to a NATO statement released Sunday.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg addresses a joint press conference with the Swedish prime minister in Stockholm on March 7, 2023, following a meeting with all Swedish party leaders who are in favor of a Swedish NATO membership.

Jonathan Nackstrand | AFP | Getty Images

The announcement followed a meeting of NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and newly reelected Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul.

Finland and Sweden renounced their long-standing policy of political neutrality following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and jointly applied for NATO membership in June of last year. Finland was accepted and joined the military organization in April.

Stockholm’s accession has been delayed by Turkish concerns that Sweden harbors militants of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, which Ankara, the United States, the EU and others designated as a terrorist organization.

Belgorod governor says energy facility on fire after drone attack

An energy facility was set on fire following a drone attack in the Russian city of Belgorod, by the Ukrainian border, Belgorod Gov. Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram overnight, according to a Google translation.

He added that services were not shut down.  

Belgorod has suffered both Ukrainian and domestic offensives in recent days. Earlier, an anti-Kremlin Russian paramilitary group, the Russian Volunteer Corps, on Sunday offered on Telegram to surrender two captive Russian soldiers to Gladkov, if the governor arrived in person to receive them in the Novaya Tavolzhanka locality.

Reuters reported that Gladkov had said he accepted the offer — but the pro-Ukraine group later said the meeting never took place, according to a Google translation.

Ruxandra Iordache

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