June 12, 2023

Ecocide, Russia's Latest Weapon of War


Ecocide, Russia's Latest Weapon of War
Man holding a baby as the water rises in Ukraine. Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings |, Twitter.

While Ukraine slept in the early hours of June 6, the Kakhovka Dam on the Dnipro River was blown up, becoming the region's worst environmental catastrophe since Chernobyl. The floodings in Kherson Oblast displaced thousands, limited the drinking water supply, and destroyed natural habitats, houses, and historical landmarks. As of the publication of this article, 13 persons are confirmed dead.

The Kakhovka Dam was considered one of the most significant construction projects of the Stalin's era. The station provided irrigation, drinking water, and electricity to Southern Ukraine. 

Russian forces occupied the dam on March 16, 2022, and the plant ceased operations later that year. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky warned on October 20, 2022, that the occupants had mined the dam to "commit a terrorist attack and blame Ukraine for it." Russia retreated on November 11, 2022, damaging parts of the plant as they left.

An estimated 20 thousand persons will need to relocate due to the flooding caused by the explosion. Some 29 Kherson settlements were affected by the flooding, 10 of them under Russian occupation. The Kyiv Post reported that, in occupied towns, Russian authorities refused to assist residents who did not have Russian passports. Amid evacuation efforts, Russia shelled inundated Kherson, killing one person.

  • The destruction caused by the floods was such that Odesa residents reported finding debris on their coast 126 miles away.
  • The house of self-taught artist Polina Rayko, a National Monument of Ukraine, is now underwater, and all her paintings on the walls are lost. 
  • All animals of the zoo in Nova Kakhovka, the town adjacent to the dam, drowned. Only the ducks survived.
  • Authorities reported that 150 tons of machine oil poured into the Dnipro River due to the explosion.
  • The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is facing a water shortage that threatens maintenance and safety. 
  • Climate activist Greta Thunberg called the attack an ecocide.

On the date of the explosion, the UN celebrated Russian language day.

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