Tue, 03 Oct 2023

France will send aid to Ukraine "within the next few hours", said President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday following a phone call with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky. A day after the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, rescue teams rushed to evacuate people as floodwaters peaked. Follow our live blog for the latest updates on the war in Ukraine. All times are Paris time (GMT+2).

10:35pm: Dam destruction increases mine threat, says Red Cross

The destruction of the Kakhovka dam in Ukraine will have a catastrophic effect on locating landmines in the affected region, the Red Cross warned Wednesday.

"We knew where the hazards were," said Erik Tollefsen, head of the Weapon Contamination Unit at the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). "Now we don't know.

"All we know is that they are somewhere downstream."

"This is a major concern because it will affect not just the population, but also all of those that are coming in to help," he added.

The ICRC had spent several months helping mine clearance operations in Ukraine, mapping and marking minefields and providing training and equipment, said Tollefsen.

"Now all of that has been washed away."

9:25pm: NATO chief to chair emergency Ukraine meeting over dam

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he will chair a meeting Thursday of an emergency coordination panel with Ukraine on the "outrageous destruction" of a frontline dam.

The wrecking of the Kakhovka dam in the southern Kherson region unleashed waters "displacing thousands of people and causing an ecological catastrophe in Ukraine", he said in a tweet on Wednesday.

He added that Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba would participate by video link in Thursday's meeting of the NATO-Ukraine Commission.

Kuleba tweeted that the meeting was called at his request, and said Stoltenberg had promised "NATO mechanisms will be used to provide humanitarian assistance".

8:45pm: France to send aid to Ukraine 'within next few hours', says Macron

President Emmanuel Macron on Wednesday said France would send aid to Ukraine "within the next few hours" after he had a phone conversation with his Ukrainian counterpart.

"France condemns this atrocious act, which is endangering populations. Within the next few hours, we will send aid to meet immediate needs," Macron wrote on Twitter.

8:31pm: Zelensky 'shocked' over lack of international aid for dam disaster

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky expressed shock at what he said was the failure of the UN and the Red Cross to help after the destruction of the massive Kakhovka dam.

Although the catastrophe happened many hours ago, "they aren't here", Zelensky told German newspapers Bild and Die Welt as well as Politico. "We have had no response. I am shocked."

In his interview, Zelensky said Russian soldiers were shooting from a distance while rescue attempts were in progress.

"As soon as our helpers try to save them, they are shot at," he was quoted as saying.

7:12pm: 'Urgent' need to deal with dam disaster, Zelensky tells Macron

In a phone conversation with French President Emmanuel Macron, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said there was a pressing need to handle the consequences of the Kakhovka dam destruction.

During the call, the two leaders "spoke about the current situation in Kherson region, the environmental and humanitarian consequences of the Russian act of terrorism, and outlined the urgent needs of Ukraine to eliminate the disaster", Zelensky said on Twitter.

"We discussed the possibility of using international mechanisms to investigate its causes," Zelensky added.

6:12pm: Moscow-backed official says Russian army gains advantage from dam breach

A top Moscow-backed official in part of Ukraine controlled by Russia has said that the collapse of the Kakhovka dam has handed the Russian military a tactical advantage.

Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed governor of part of Ukraine's southern Kherson region controlled by Moscow, said he believed Kyiv was to blame for the disaster, but that the tragedy had handed an advantage to the Russian military.

"In military terms, the situation has worked out in a way that is operationally and tactically in favour of Russian forces," Saldo told pro-Kremlin TV presenter Vladimir Solovyov.

He said the dam's destruction and resulting floodwaters would make it easier for Russia to defend against any Ukrainian counteroffensive in the area.

"Our armed forces now have an open space in front of them across which they can see who is trying to cross the Dnipro River and how. And it will be impossible for them to get through via the Kakhovka reservoir if they try," he said.

5:25pm: Radiation levels at Zaporizhzhia plant normal, says Russia

Radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine are normal, the RIA reported, citing a Russian state agency.

"Radiation levels at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant are monitored on a daily basis," the RIA said, citing Russia's Federal Medical-Biological Agency.

4:15pm: Petrol pumps under water, people and pets being evacuated from Kherson

Earlier today, FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg visited Kherson, the biggest city on the Dnipro River, which has been affected by the flooding caused by the Kakhovka dam collapse.

Reporting from the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv shortly after returning, Cragg says part of Kherson city is under water. "I saw petrol stations, the pumps were not visible because the water was above that level. People who had just been evacuated from areas further away said that their houses were flooded right up to the roofs, they were sitting on the roof. The evacuation operation is under way."

4:15pm: Putin calls Kakhovka dam attack a 'barbaric act' in first reaction

President Vladimir Putin called the attack on the Russian-occupied Kakhovka dam, which Moscow has blamed on Ukraine, a "barbaric act", in his first public reaction to the situation.

Putin told Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in a phone call that the breach was "a barbaric act which has led to a large-scale environmental and humanitarian catastrophe", the Kremlin said in a statement.

3:20pm: Zelensky discusses 'Russian act of terrorism' in phone call with Erdogan

In his readout on Twitter of a phone call with Turkey's president, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky does not mention an international probe into the Kakhovka dam collapse.

Zelensky said he discussed the "humanitarian and environmental consequences of the Russian act of terrorism at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant" in his conversation with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Earlier, the Turkish presidential office said Erdogan proposed creating an international commission to investigate the destruction of the dam during the phone call with Zelensky.

In his readout, Zelensky said he discussed the "return of our illegally detained citizens, in particular Crimean Tatars, and the continuation and expansion of the grain initiative".

Crimean Tatars are a Turkic ethnic group who are the indigenous people of Crimea. Large numbers were deported from the area in the post-World War II Soviet purges.

Turkey is one of the signatories of the Black Sea grain initiative enabling the export of Ukrainian grain.

2:43pm: Turkey's Erdogan proposes international probe into dam collapse in call with Zelensky

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan proposed creating an international commission to probe the destruction of the Karkhova dam in a call with his Ukrainian counterpart on Wednesday, his office reported.

"President Erdogan said that a commission could be established with the participation of experts from the warring parties, the United Nations and the international community, including Turkey, for a detailed investigation into the explosion at Kakhovka dam," his office said after the call.

1:50pm: Russian defence ministry says Ukrainian 'saboteurs' blew up Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline

Russia's defence ministry said on Wednesday that "Ukrainian saboteurs" had blown up a section of the Togliatti-Odesa ammonia pipeline that carries fertiliser from Russia to Ukraine in Kharkiv region on Monday.

There was no immediate comment on the allegation from Ukraine.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that it would take one to three months to repair the damaged pipeline.

12:52pm: Russia accuses Ukraine of shelling border village with Grad missiles

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region said on Wednesday that Ukraine had shelled the settlement of Grafovka, about 2 km (1.2 miles) from the Ukrainian border, with Grad missiles.

Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said that some of the shells had landed near a school and damaged buildings, but that there were no casualties.

There was no immediate comment on his allegation from Ukraine. FRANCE 24 could not independently verify his assertion.

The Grad (Hail) weapons system is a truck-mounted multiple rocket launcher used by both Russian and Ukrainian forces. Its use against civilian areas is regarded as a war crime by human rights activists.

11:51am: Ukraine says it advances as much as a kilometre in places near Bakhmut

Ukraine advanced from 200 to 1,100 metres on parts of the front around the devastated eastern city of Bakhmut in the past 24 hours, Ukrainian deputy defence minister Hanna Maliar said.

"Our troops have switched from being on the defensive to being on the offensive in the direction of Bakhmut," she said on the Telegram messaging app.

Reuters was unable to independently verify the situation on the battlefield.

The Russian defence ministry, meanwhile, said that these series of offensives near Bakhmut were unsucessful.

11:24am: Louvre safeguarding Ukrainian art treasures

The Louvre in Paris is hosting 16 works of art, including 1,500-year-old Byzantine icons, from a museum in Kyiv in order to protect them from the war, it said Wednesday.

"Since the start of the war, like other museums, we have been concerned to see how we can support our Ukrainian colleagues. In the autumn, faced with the intensity of the conflict, we decided to carry out this rescue," Louvre president Laurence des Cars told AFP.

"It's not much in a sea of sadness and desolation, but it's a symbol," she added.

She said the Louvre was particularly concerned by the risk of theft and illicit trafficking of artworks and relics if they had stayed in Ukraine.

11:21am: Ukraine, Russia say more than 2,700 evacuated from Kakhovka dam flooding

More than 2,700 people have been evacuated on both sides of the Dnipro River from flooding caused by the destruction of the Russian-occupied Kakhovka dam in Ukraine, officials said Wednesday.

A spokesman for Ukraine's emergency services, Oleksandr Khorunzhyi, said on television that "more than 1,450 people have been evacuated".

"Currently there is no information about the dead or injured," he said, adding that the water level in the city of Kherson had risen by five metres.

Officials have said thousands more will have to leave their homes and many are already doing so under their own steam.

The Moscow-installed deputy governor for Kherson region, Tatyana Kuzmich, said 1,274 were evacuated on the Russian-controlled side of the river.

Kuzmich said the figure included 38 people who had been rescued from the roofs of houses, adding that some residents were still stranded. "According to data from the emergencies ministry, 1,274 have been rescued, 32 of them disabled," she said on Russian state television.

She said there were currently 350 people staying in temporary shelters.

10:24am: Russia to boost security at nuclear plant during Grossi visit, TASS reports

Russia will take extensive security measures at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine during a visit by International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi next week, the state-owned TASS news agency said on Wednesday.

"Comprehensive measures are always taken on our part to guarantee the safety and security of all members of the IAEA delegation," TASS reported, citing Renat Karchaa, an adviser to the head of Russian nuclear plant operator Rosenergoatom.

10:06am: Black Sea grain deal talks will be held in Geneva on Friday, RIA reports

Talks on the Black Sea grain export deal will be held in Geneva on Friday, Russia's RIA news agency reported on Wednesday, citing an unnamed source.

Top United Nations trade official Rebeca Grynspan is expected to take part in the talks, RIA reported.

9:53am: Kakhovka dam destruction leaves hundreds of thousands without drinking water, Zelensky says

President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Wednesday the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine had left hundreds of thousands of people without normal access to drinking water.

"The destruction of one of the largest water reservoirs in Ukraine is absolutely deliberate ... Hundreds of thousands of people have been left without normal access to drinking water," Zelensky said on the Telegram messaging app.

9:45am: Russian drone attack kills two civilians in Ukraine's Sumy region, Kyiv says

A Russian drone attack killed two civilians and wounded one in the Sumy region of northern Ukraine, Andriy Yermak, the head of the president's office, said on Wednesday.

Yermak said on the Telegram messaging app that an Iranian-made "Shahed" drone had destroyed a private house and caused a fire. The president's office said in a statement that Russia shelled the northeast border region several times overnight and on Wednesday morning.

9:39am: Russian-controlled nuclear plant 'protected' from re-capture, official says

The Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southeast Ukraine is "sufficiently protected" from being re-captured by force, RIA news agency reported on Wednesday, citing an adviser to the head of nuclear plant operator Rosenergoatom.

9:24am: Russia's Medvedev says Moscow should launch its own offensive against Ukraine

Dmitry Medvedev, Russia's former president, said on Wednesday it appeared that Ukraine had launched its long-awaited counter-offensive and that Moscow should respond with its own offensive once it had repelled Kyiv's forces.

"The enemy has long promised a great counter-offensive. And it seems to have already started something," Medvedev, who now serves as the deputy chairman of Russia's Security Council, said in a statement on the Telegram messaging application.

"We have to stop the enemy and then launch an offensive," he said.

9:10am: Russia detains resident in its far east on suspicion of spying for Ukraine

Russia has detained a resident in its far east on suspicion of spying for Ukraine, Russian news agencies reported on Wednesday, citing the Federal Security Service (FSB).

The suspect was accused of gathering information about law enforcement facilities and the region's military infrastructure, the RIA news agency reported.

Reports said the suspect was a resident of the Primorsky Krai region, without providing further detail.

8:31am: Russia says West trying to confuse the world over Nord Stream culprits

The Russian embassy in the United States said on Wednesday that a report published by the Washington Post saying that the US was aware of a Ukrainian plan to attack the Nord Stream natural gas pipelines was part of a coordinated Western attempt to confuse the world over the truth.

The Washington Post reported on Tuesday that a six-person team of Ukrainian special operations forces intended to blow up the Russia-to-Germany project. The report cited leaked information posted online that the CIA learned last June through a European spy agency,

"The coordinated campaign of the West, led by the United States, to confuse the international community is sewn with white threads," Russian diplomat Andrey Ledenev was quoted as saying in a post on the embassy's Telegram messaging channel.

"The reason for the proliferating theories and versions, supported by the notorious 'confidential' data of the local intelligence community, is simple to the point of banality."

8:17am: Russian-installed authorities declare emergency in annexed parts of Kherson region

Russian-installed authorities have imposed a state of emergency in the Russian-annexed part of Ukraine's Kherson region, the TASS news agency said on Wednesday, citing emergency services.

8:05: Two Russian towns lose power, one wounded after Ukraine attack, governor says

Two towns in Russia's western Kursk region lost electricity and a man was wounded on Wednesday after Ukraine dropped explosives on an electricity substation near the border overnight, the region's governor said.

"One of the workers received shrapnel wounds while restoring power supply. He is in the central district hospital and doctors are giving him all necessary treatment," governor Roman Starovoyt said.

Reuters was not able to independently verify his account.

8:00am: Floodwaters expected to peak Wednesday morning

The floodwaters unleashed by the partial destruction of the Kakhovka dam on Tuesday, which resulted in the inundation of at least 35 villages and towns on both sides of the Dnipro River, are expected to peak later this morning.The higher water level is expected to last for several days, and evacuations are continuing on the Ukrainian side of the river. Prior to this incident, these areas were already on the front line and being shelled regularly. Even animals were not spared, as more than 300 in the Nova Kakhovka zoo, one of the largest in Ukraine, were killed in the floods.

FRANCE 24's Gulliver Cragg reports.

7:06am: At least seven missing in flooding caused by Kakhovka dam destruction, TASS reports

At least seven people have been missing after waters from the destroyed Kakhovka dam flooded nearby areas, Russia's TASS news agency cited the Moscow-installed mayor of the city of Nova Kakhovka as saying on Wednesday.

6:48am: Ukraine evacuates thousands after key dam destroyed

Ukraine was evacuating thousands of people Wednesday after an attack on a major Russian-held dam unleashed a torrent of water, inundating two dozen villages and sparking fears of a humanitarian disaster.

Washington warned there would be "likely many deaths" as Moscow and Kyiv traded blame for ripping a gaping hole in the Kakhovka dam, which is located on the frontline and provides cooling water for Europe's largest nuclear plant.

Kyiv said the destruction of the dam - seized by Russia in the early hours of the war - was an attempt by Moscow to hamper its long-awaited offensive, which Ukraine's leader stressed would not be affected.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting on Tuesday following requests from Russia and Ukraine.

"Today's news means the plight of the people in Ukraine is set to get even worse," the UN's top humanitarian official Martin Griffiths told the meeting.

The UN warned that hundreds of thousands could be affected on both sides of the frontline.

6:47am: Russian forces shell Ukraine's Kherson region, one person dead, governor says

Russian forces shelled the Ukrainian region of Kherson multiple times over the past day, the region's governor said, with one person dying and one injured as a result of the attacks.

The shelling included the city of Kherson, the Ukrainian governor of the region, Oleksandr Prokudin, said on the Telegram messaging app.

Reuters could not independently verify the report. There were no further details from Prokudin.

On Tuesday, the critical Nova Kakhovka dam in the Russian-controlled part of Kherson was destroyed, flooding large swaths of Kherson and forcing the evacuation of thousands.

6:01am: Water levels in Nova Kakhovka declining after dam destruction, Russia-installed officials say

Water levels in the city of Nova Kakhovka started to decline on Wednesday morning after the destruction of the nearby dam, the Russian-installed administration of the city said on the Telegram messaging app.

"The water level on the previously flooded streets of Nova Kakhovka began to subside," the administration of the now Moscow-controlled city said.

Read yesterday's live blog to see how the day's events unfolded.

Key developments from Tuesday, June 6:

Kyiv called for the UN Security Council to convene an emergency meeting following the partial destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, a major Russian-held dam in southern Ukraine.

Ukraine's prosecutor general on Tuesday said 17,000 people were being evacuated from two dozen villages following the incident. Ukraine accused Russian forces of blowing up the hydroelectric dam, which represents a significant resource for the wider region by supplying water to a host of communities and Europe's largest nuclear power station at Zaporizhzhia.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)

Originally published on France24

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