Video Appears to Show Russian Shelling Ukraine Flood Rescue Efforts

June 9, 2023

At least two people have been killed and 17 others injured by Russian shelling upon Ukrainian efforts to rescue civilians from the flooded Kherson region, following the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, the New York Times reported Friday.

Officials who spoke to the Times did not specify where the people had been killed, but witnesses said shelling Thursday landed near an evacuation point at a central square in the regional capital where hundreds were gathered.

According to Ukrainian officials and witnesses, the square was one of several areas in the city of Nova Kakhovka targeted by Russian forces.

 Anton Gerashchenko, advisor to Ukraine’s Minister of Internal Affairs, tweeted video Thursday of a rescue worker, during which explosions can be heard and people can be seen scrambling.  

“Moshe Reuven Azman, Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, has been under shelling in Kherson,” Gerashchenko wrote in the tweet, identifying the rescue worker. “Russia does nothing to evacuate people from the left bank of Dnipro river, and tries to disrupt Ukrainian evacuation efforts.”

Kherson’s military said Russian forces had targeted the flooded out city of Kakhovka with with seven waves of attacks involving 25 shells.

According to Ukrainian officials, the shelling began after a visit to the flooded out region by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Thursday.

Thousands have been forced to evacuate the floodwaters in what United Nations Secretary General António Guterres called a “monumental humanitarian, economic and ecological catastrophe.”

Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russia of blowing up the dam, which is in an area currently under Russian military control and separates Russian and Ukrainian forces in the war zone. Zelensky has referred to the destruction as an act of “Russian terrorists.”

Russian officials, however, accused Kyiv of striking the dam with missiles to distract attention from what they said were failures in its counteroffensive to take back Ukrainian territory from Russian control. 

Engineering and munitions experts have said that a deliberate explosion from inside the dam had most likely caused its collapse. The experts conceded that structural failure or an attack from outside the dam was possible though less plausible.

Ukrainian military officials, meanwhile, have said that the dam’s destruction and the subsequential flooding will not impact its counteroffensive, now under way. 

The Ukrainian military had never intended to make fighting along the Dnipro river a major part of the overall campaign, Mykhailo Samus, a director of the Army, Conversion and Disarmament Center in Kyiv, told the Times.

And Natalia Humeniuk, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s southern military command, told local news outlets,”This will have a certain impact as the landscape of the future battlefield has changed significantly and even the front line itself has changed.” But she added, “This is not a critical change.”

Ukraine’s military had planned for the possibility that Russia would blow up the dam, she said. President Zelensky had also warned the same.

PHOTO: @Gerashchenko_en

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