Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said Russia’s attacks on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure are aimed at creating a new wave of refugees.
Addressing the European Council in a video address, Zelensky said that after failing to use energy resources as a weapon against Europe, “the current Russian leadership has ordered the energy system itself to be turned into a battlefield. The consequences of this are Very dangerous, for all of us Europeans.”
“Russian cruise missiles and Iranian attack drone strikes destroyed more than a third of our energy infrastructure,” he said. “So, unfortunately, we can no longer export electricity to help you maintain stability.”
Russia has launched devastating attacks on its energy infrastructure for several days, causing the country to lose at least 40% of its power generation capacity. Ukrainian officials warned earlier this week that both emergency and scheduled blackouts would follow.
Zelensky added: “Russia is also provoking a new wave of Ukrainian migration to EU countries. Russia’s intimidation of our energy facilities is aimed at creating as many electricity and heating problems as possible in Ukraine this autumn and winter, and Get as many Ukrainians as possible out of your country.”
Mined critical dams: Zelensky also claimed that Russia was setting the stage for a large-scale disaster in southern Ukraine, with Russian troops mining a major dam on the Dnieper River in the southern Kherson region, as well as an adjacent hydroelectric power station.
“We have information that Russian terrorists have planted mines on the dam and units of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant,” Zelensky told the European Commission in a video address.
“The dam of this hydroelectric power plant holds about 18 million cubic meters of water.
“If Russian terrorists blow up the dam, more than 80 settlements, including Kherson, would be in a rapid flood zone. Hundreds of people could suffer. Water supply to much of southern Ukraine could be disrupted Sabotage. This Russian terrorist attack could deprive the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant of cooling water – the ZNPP’s water is taken from the Kakhovka reservoir.”
CNN has contacted the Russian Defense Ministry for a response to the allegations.
As the area was occupied by Russian troops in March, the working capacity of the dam and hydroelectric power plants was greatly reduced. Ukrainian troops are about 40 kilometers (more than 24 miles) north of the dam. They have carried out several attacks on bridges that form part of the dam in the past four months to prevent the Russian military from using it.
Separately, Mikhailo Podoljak, adviser to the chief of staff of the Ukrainian president, tweeted on Thursday that Russia plans to mine dams and transformers to force the expulsion of Ukrainian civilians from Kherson and flood the territory to prevent Ukrainian counteroffensive in the region. The terrain is low-lying to the south and east of the river.
“Russia is preparing for a man-made disaster,” Podoljak said.
What pro-Moscow officials are saying: Russia’s appointed head of the new Kakhovka district, Vladimir Leontiev, told Russian state media TASS that there was no point in Russia destroying the power station dam.
“What’s the point of Russia destroying it now? Even from a formal point of view, it’s nonsense. It’s absolute nonsense,” Leontiev said.
“First of all, you need to consider who benefits from it: destroying dams, hydropower plants, disrupting logistics, sowing fear and panic, preventing the possibility of water supply through hydropower plants, will only benefit Ukraine. Northern Crimea Canal to Crimea territory,” he said, according to the TASS news agency.