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Zelenskiy calls on West to warn Russia not to blow up dam

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has called on the West to warn Russia not to blow up a huge dam that would flood a swath of southern Ukraine, as his forces prepare to push Moscow’s troops from Kherson in one of the war’s most important battles.

According to a report by Reuters, Zelenskiy said In a television address, that Russian forces had planted explosives inside the huge Nova Kakhovka dam, which holds back an enormous reservoir that dominates much of southern Ukraine, and were planning to blow it up.

“Now everyone in the world must act powerfully and quickly to prevent a new Russian terrorist attack. Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster,” he said.

The report further noted that Russia accused Kyiv earlier this week of rocketing the dam and planning to destroy it, in what Ukrainian officials called a sign that Moscow might blow it up and blame Kyiv.

Neither side produced evidence to back up their allegations.

The vast Dnipro bisects Ukraine and is several km wide in places. Bursting the dam could send a wall of water flooding settlements below it, towards the city of Kherson, which Ukrainian forces hope to recapture in a major advance.

It would also wreck the canal system that irrigates much of southern Ukraine, including Crimea, which Moscow seized in 2014. The report said.

The alarm has echoes of a World War Two disaster at another huge dam further upriver, which Ukrainian historians say was dynamited by Soviet sappers as their troops retreated, causing floods that swept away villages and killed thousands of people.

Zelenskiy called on world leaders to make clear that blowing up the dam would be treated “the same as the use of weapons of mass destruction”, with similar consequences to those threatened if Russia uses nuclear or chemical weapons.

Writing by Abdullahi Lamino; Editing by Tony Okerafor