Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned an attack on the Nova Kakhovka dam in the Russian-controlled Kherson region as a ”barbaric act” by the Ukrainian side in his first reaction to the incident that prompted mass evacuations.
According to Press TV, he made the remarks during a phone conversation with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday, insisting that the breach in the major dam in Kherson was “a barbaric act that led to a large-scale environmental and humanitarian catastrophe.”
“The Kiev authorities, at the suggestion of their Western curators, are still making a dangerous bet on the escalation of hostilities, commit war crimes, openly use terrorist methods, and organize sabotage on Russian territory,” Putin further emphasized, according to a readout released by the Kremlin.
The Nova Kakhovka dam, the largest reservoir in Ukraine in terms of volume, holds an estimated 18 cubic kilometers of water. It supplies water for much of southeastern Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, and the Crimean peninsula which joined the Russian Federation in 2014.
The dam was destroyed early on Tuesday with satellite images and videos on social media showing a series of intense explosions around the dam as flood water was unleashed across the war zone.
Both Moscow and Kiev have traded blame over the alleged explosion that destroyed the key dam and forced the evacuation of thousands of people.
Throughout the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, both Moscow and Kiev have accused each other of plotting to blow up the Nova Kakhovka dam several times.
Earlier on Wednesday, Ukraine’s Western-backed President Volodymyr Zelensky also spoke with Erdogan, claiming that the explosion at the dam was the result of what he regularly depicts as “Russian act of terrorism.”
While the flood sparked fears of large-scale devastation and mass evacuation, Zelensky further claimed that Russia-backed forces were failing in their dam evacuation efforts, proclaiming that the provision of drinking water and resettlement should be prioritized.
Currently, nearly 42,000 people are reportedly at risk of being affected by the flooding in Russian and Ukrainian-controlled areas along the Dnipro river after the dam collapsed.