Estonia's leaders have condemned Tuesday's breach of the Nova Kakhovka dam in Southern Ukraine. While it is not, at the time of writing, clear how extensive the flooding will be, reports state that the damage could potentially prove "devastating."
President Alar Karis tweeted: "Blowing up the Kakhovka dam is an another act of terrorism that will threaten thousands of Ukrainian civilians' lives. This will be another charge on the list for Moscow's criminals in power."
Blowing up the #Kakhovka dam is an another act of terrorism that will threaten thousands of #Ukrainian civilians' lives. This will be another charge on the list for Moscow's criminals in power. https://t.co/k24LsSQlqV— Alar Karis (@AlarKaris) June 6, 2023
Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said: "Terrorist state Russia has now turned water into a weapon. Destroying Nova Kakhovka dam is a war crime, affecting countless civilians and bringing ecocide and mass destruction. We must stop this cycle of aggression by helping Ukraine to victory and delivering full accountability."
Terrorist state Russia has now turned water into a weapon. Destroying #NovaKakhovka dam is a war crime affecting countless civilians and bringing ecocide and mass destruction.— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) June 6, 2023
We must stop this cycle of aggression by helping Ukraine to victory and delivering full accountability.
Riigikogu speaker Lauri Hussar said later on Tuesday that what happened at Khakovka is a "war crime affecting thousands of civilians and causing great economic and environmental damage."
"We must continue providing comprehensive assistance to Ukraine and raising the cost of aggression for Russia," the speaker added.
Speaker Lauri Hussar: the destruction of the #NovaKakhovka dam is a war crime affecting thousands of civilians and causing great economic and environmental damage. We must continue providing comprehensive assistance to Ukraine and raising the cost of aggression for Russia. pic.twitter.com/4Y51t0K4xU— Riigikogu (@Riigikogu) June 6, 2023
Foreign minister: Estonia condemns war crime of dam destruction
Minister of Foreign Affairs Margus Tsakhna issued a statement Tuesday which read: "Estonia condemns the destruction of the Nova Khakovka dam by the Russian occupants in Ukraine. This war crime will result in ecocide, enormous economic damage and the displacement of thousands of people in Ukraine and beyond, and increase risks at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Estonia and like-minded countries are working to make sure war criminals are brought to justice and the new package of sanctions is implemented without delay. Russia must immediately withdraw its forces from the entire territory of Ukraine and answer for its crimes."
The foreign minister had earlier tweeted: "We condemn the deliberate destruction of the Nova Kakhovka by Russia. This war crime will result in ecocide, enormous economic damage and displacement of thousands of people. The perpetrators of war crimes must be brought under a special tribunal."
We condemn the deliberate destruction of the #NovaKakhovka HPP in #Ukraine by Russia.— Margus Tsahkna (@Tsahkna) June 6, 2023
This war crime will result in ecocide, enormous economic damage & displacement of thousands of people.
The perpetrators of war crimes must be brought under #SpecialTribunalNow.
Estonia's diplomatic mission in Ukraine reiterated that statement.
Estonia condemns the destruction of the #NovaKakhovka HPP in by Russia. This war crime will result in ecocide, economic damage & displacement of thousands of people. Everyone responsible have to be accountable and brought under #SpecialTribunalNow. pic.twitter.com/HI4kNdx3YC— Estonia in Ukraine (@EE_Ukraine) June 6, 2023
The Ministry of Defense's top official, Permanent Secretary Kusti Salm, called the act "a war crime plain and simple".
It is a war crime plain and simple.— Kusti Salm (@KustiSalm) June 6, 2023
Additional protocol I of 1977 of the Geneva Convention. pic.twitter.com/kbypquKFX7
The FT reports that Jens Stoltenberg, NATO's secretary general, has said the dam's destruction "puts thousands of civilians at risk and causes severe environmental damage. This is an outrageous act, which demonstrates once again the brutality of Russia's war in Ukraine," while EU council president Charles Michel blamed Moscow for the dam breach and referred to the incident as a war crime.
The Nova Kakhovka reservoir lies on the Dnipro River and supplies water both to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia annexed in 2014, and to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which is also currently under Russian control.
Social media videos have shown water surging through an enormous hole in the dam, which is likely to affect "many thousands" of people, the BBC reports, while evacuations began on both sides of the front line after the rupture.
Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said, according to the BBC, that up to 80 settlements were at risk of flooding.
The Crimean peninsula is dependent for fresh water via a canal leading from the reservoir; fresh water shortages had been endemic in Crimea following Russia's annexation, as Ukraine had blocked water supplies, according to the BBC, while according to Reuters, Russian forces reopened the canal soon after the start of the current invasion.
Neither Ukraine or Russia's claims have been verified by the BBC, while it is not clear exactly what caused the breach.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy stated on Tuesday that it was: "Russian terrorists. The destruction of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant dam only confirms for the whole world that they must be expelled from every corner of Ukrainian land."
Russian officials gave conflicting accounts, some saying it was destroyed by Ukrainian shelling and others saying it collapsed due to earlier damage.
The U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on Twitter it was closely monitoring the situation but that there was "no immediate nuclear safety risk at (the) Zaporizhzhia plant".
The 30m high, 3.2km long dam was built in 1956 as part of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, while the reservoir's estimated volume is reported at 18 cubic kilometers, comparable with that of Utah's Salt Lake.
Editor: Andrew Whyte, Helen Wright
Source: BBC, Reuters, FT