Deadly missile strike hits medical clinic in Ukraine: live updates

credit…Jim Hoilebrook for The New York Times

Pokrovsk, Ukraine — Russian forces have blew up a dam on a river in eastern Ukraine, sending water levels up in what the Ukrainian military said Friday was an attempt to flood supply lines downstream.

Thursday afternoon’s missile strike at the gates of the Karlivka Dam in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk region was the latest use of flooding as a tactic in the 15-month-old war. The rivers that criss-cross Ukraine represent some of the few natural barriers between Russian and Ukrainian forces, and both sides have used them to impede the advance or seek to target the other’s pontoon bridges.

Huge torrents of water gushed out from the destroyed dam, according to a video posted Thursday by the head of Ukraine’s military department in the region, Pavlo Kirilenko, on the messaging app Telegram. He said local authorities had evacuated 26 people from their homes and that villages along the Vovca river had been put on a flood alert.

Mr Kirilenko wrote on Telegram that Russian forces had “constantly bombed” the dam for months, before scoring a direct hit on its gates.

“Civilians will suffer primarily from these actions,” he said.

The area of ​​intense Ukrainian military operations near the front line was flooded. The army sealed off the area upstream of the dam, citing security concerns.

“Russia is predictable in its actions,” Major Serhiy Tsikhotsky, a spokesman for the Ukrainian 59th Brigade, which operates in the area, said in an interview. “They do the same thing over and over again.”

See also  What did Biden "do" in Israel? Turns out, not much

Both Ukraine and Russia used rivers and their crossings throughout the war to thwart the other side’s advances.

In the early days of the war, the Ukrainian army blew up sluice gates to flood the Irbin River valley north of Kiev, blocking one route into the capital for columns of Russian tanks and buying time to prepare defences, but submerging many of them. Dozens of homes in the area.

Last September, Russian forces fired a barrage of missiles at a dam near the city of Kryvyi Rih in central Ukraine, blowing out two gates in what Ukrainian officials said was an attempt to wash away Ukrainian military pontoon crossings downstream on the Ingolets River. Ukraine needed the floating crossings, which were also subject to Russian artillery and air attack, for a counter-attack that eventually succeeded in driving the Russian forces out of Kherson.

Noting the value of this dam as a military target, Russia fired seven of its most advanced Iskander and Kinzhal missiles at the gates. Local officials said at the time that only one of the two flood gates was damaged, causing more water to gradually seep out of the reservoir than if the strike had destroyed both.

Floating crossings downstream were not affected, but the water level in the Ingolets River rose by 2 meters and neighborhoods in Kryvyi Rih were flooded.

The Ukrainian government has repeatedly warned of the danger of Russia blowing up a major hydroelectric dam on the Dnipro River to release water from the Kakhovka reservoir. Ukrainian officials have suggested that the aim of such a strike would be to flood riverside communities and Ukrainian military outposts downstream or create an emergency situation at the Zaporizhia Nuclear Power Plant, which draws cooling water from the reservoir.

See also  The United States and Vietnam sign a historic partnership in Biden's visit, with a focus on China

Ukrainian officials said that Russian forces, who occupy the eastern bank of the river at the site of the Kakhovka Dam and control the floodgates, have already, for unclear reasons, tampered with the water level in the reservoir.

During the winter, the water level in the reservoir dropped to its lowest level in four decades, depriving Ukrainian cities of their water supply. During the high snowmelt in the spring, the Russian military allowed water to build up to what Ukrainian officials said were levels so high that they posed safety risks to the dam.

Altimeter data – which uses satellites to measure altitude – published last week by Thea, a French geodata company, showed that water levels in the reservoir had reached a 30-year high, raising the possibility of flooding in the area and pointing to a lack of regulation.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *