Ukraine-Russia war latest: Warning of 'grave consequences' after dam blast as Russians 'trying to steal boats' from fleeing Ukrainians (2023)

Key points
  • UN chief warns of 'grave and far-reaching consequences' after dam blast
  • Flooded city comes under shelling attack
  • US intelligence 'leaning towards' Russia as dam attack culprit
  • Sean Bell: 'Almost certain' Russian mines were 'only way' to destroy dam
  • Deborah Haynes: Dam blast is 'most damaging' event of war so far
  • Alex Crawford:Russians 'bombing beaches' and 'trying to steal boats' from fleeing Ukrainians
  • Your questions answered:Could Iran start giving tanks to Russia?
  • Got a question about the war? Ask our experts
  • Live reporting by Guy Birchall and Brad Young


Putin calls dam breach a 'catastrophe'

Vladimir Putin has called the destruction of the Kakhovka dam an "environmental andhumanitarian catastrophe", according to the Kremlin.

The Russian president made the statement during a call with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, today.

Mr Erdogan also spoke to Volodymyr Zelenskyy on a separate phone call, telling him that an international commission could be set up to investigate the dam collapse.

During the conversation, the Ukrainian president branded the incident a "Russian act of terrorism" and said he "handed over a list of Ukraine's urgent needs to eliminate the disaster".


More need to be evacuated in Russian controlled areas than in Ukraine

Significantly more people are affected by flooding on the Russian-controlled side than in Ukrainian-held territory, according toour security and defence analyst Michael Clarke.

More than 25,000 on the Russian side will have to be evacuated, compared to around 15,000 on the Ukrainian side.

Discussing the political fallout, Clarke said that there had been "lots of condemnation", describing it as "clearly a war crime".

He added: "Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor, who is normally very cautions about these things, said yesterday that it was of course the Russians, as did Charles Michel of the European Council and the British foreign secretary, James Cleverly.

"There is some military logic in it from the Russian point of view, but the humanitarian problem it creates makes that completely disproportionate."


Russia 'deliberately damaged' the dam 'on balance of probability'

Available evidence, reasoning and rhetoric suggests Russia "deliberately damaged" the dam, according to military experts.

The Institute for the Study of War said it cannot definitively conclude who or what caused the breach, but several Russian explanations were "implausible" and Moscow had more to gain.

Russian sources have "expressed intense and explicit concern" over Ukraine crossing the Dnipro river, and flooding it would widen the waterway, making this more difficult, the US-based thinktank said.

Ukrainian positions near the shoreline were washed away and soldiers were forced to evacuate while under Russian artillery fire, according to ISW assessments of footage captured yesterday.

Some Russian formations on the east bank may have been caught off guard by the flooding, but "Ukraine has no material interest in blowing the dam", said the ISW.

It called claims made by Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov - that Ukraine sabotaged the dam because its army was not achieving their counteroffensive goals - "implausible".

"Ukrainian forces have not yet conducted large-scale offensive operations," the ISW said, echoing a senior Ukrainian official today.

Russia's defence minister said Ukrainian forces were relocating from Kherson to support "failing" offensive actions elsewhere and blew the dam to reinforce Kherson defences, but the ISW said this too was "implausible" because Russian forces in Kherson "pose no meaningful threat".

Nonetheless, no "clear evidence" has yet become available, and the possibility remains that pre-existing structural damage caused the breakage, notwithstanding reports of explosions, according to the thinktank.


Before and after the damage

Move the slider across the image below to see the difference in the flow of water after the dam was breached.

Three clear breaches in the dam wall can be seen in the second image, with the water flowing out changing from a comparative trickle to a torrent.

The Soviet era Kakhovka Reservoir was built in 1956 and, at its fullest, can hold more than 18 square kilometres of water.


Putin ally blames UK and NATO for dam blast

A Putin ally has said the UK, US and their NATO allies must "bear responsibility" for the destruction of the Kakhovka dam.

Nikolai Patrushev, secretary of the Russian Security Council, said the countries were "coordinating Ukraine'sactivities" and therefore "gave consent to the bombing".

Despite accusing Ukraine of shelling the dam, Russian officials have not provided any evidence, and experts say artillery shells could not breach a dam of this magnitude.

Ukraine has accused Russia of blowing up the 100ft structure, also without definitive evidence, but experts believe Russia has much more to gain from the floods - with defence analyst Michael Clarke going as far as to say he is "absolutely certain" Russia was behind the breach.

The Institute for the Study of War pointed to the cover it could provide any retreating Russian forces in the Kherson region and the impediment flooding would create for the Ukrainian counteroffensive.


International commission could investigate dam disaster - Erdogan

An international commission could be formed to investigate the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, the president of Turkey has proposed.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a phone call with Volodymyr Zelenskyy that a negotiation method similar to those used for the Black Sea grain deals could be pursued.

For context: Turkey and the UN brokered an agreement to provide a safe corridor for the export of grain from Ukraine via the Black Sea to alleviate a global food crisis.


Counteroffensive has not yet begun, says top Ukrainian official

Ukraine has not launched its counteroffensive, a senior official has said, contradicting claims made by ex-Russian president Dmitry Medvedev this morning.

Earlier today, we reported how Vladimir Putin's long-term ally said Ukraine has "already started something", referring to the long-anticipated counterattack.

But the secretary of Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, Oleksiy Danilov, has dismissed the remarks as "not true".

He said: "When we start the counteroffensive, everyone will know about it, they will see it."

Russian officials have mistaken localised Ukrainian advances - such as in Bakhmut - for the beginning of the operation, he added.

Turning to the destruction of the Kakhovka dam yesterday, Mr Danilov said: "They [Russia] believed that we would advance in that direction. Their actions will not result in the consequences that they would have liked them to lead to."

Russia denies blowing the dam, blaming Ukraine instead, without providing evidence.

Sky News cannot independently verify these battlefield reports.


Your questions answered: Could Iran start giving tanks to Russia?

Our experts have beenanswering your questionson the war.

Sky News reader Alex G asks what the chances are that Iran will start providing Russia with tanks and armoured vehicles - given that it's already providing drones and, as uncovered by Sky News this week, ammunition.

Our Middle East correspondent Alistair Bunkall has this answer...

Iran has transferred hundreds, if not thousands, of Shahid drones to Russia. They filled a critical gap in Moscow's capabilities and were used to effect, targeting Ukrainian infrastructure over the winter.

The problem for the West is that there is little they can really do to stop the pipeline of weapons from Iran to Russia, or vice versa (Iran is expecting to receive the advanced Russian Su-35 fighter jets as part of a new deal between the two).

Just look at a map - the Caspian Sea provides an easy and direct route for ships to travel between the two countries, and NATO militaries can't access it. Bordering countries either don't have the capability or will to intervene, so the route remains relatively risk-free.

Recent tracking data has shown an increasing number of ships going dark - turning off their location transponders - making them hard to follow and therefore obfuscating what's going on, though satellite imagery has shed some light. Ships appear to be leaving the Iranian ports of Amirabad and Anzali and then travelling north to the Volga River where Russia has a large port at Astrakhan.

It's believed drones and arms have also been transferred to Russia via air on occasion too.

We are seeing an overall deepening of military ties between the two countries, which is mutually beneficial for two states heavily sanctioned and shunned by the international community.

Whether heavier weaponry, like tanks, are sent to Russia is another matter but it wouldn't surprise me if Iran does try to help its ally as Moscow grows ever desperate to win the conflict it started. Having said that, even Iran's most advanced tank, the Karrar built in 2018, is considered inferior to Western variants.


NATO to conduct largest air exercise in alliance's history

Germany is preparing to host the biggest air deployment exercise in NATO's history in a show of force to potential adversaries such as Russia, officials said.

The Air Defender 23 exercise starting next week will see 10,000 participants and 250 aircraft from 25 nations respond to a simulated attack on a NATO member country.

The US alone is sending 2,000 US Air National Guard personnel and about 100 aircraft to take part in the training manoeuvres between 12 June and 23 June.

Amy Gutmann, the US ambassador to Germany, said: "I would be pretty surprised if any world leader was not taking note of what this shows in terms of the spirit of this alliance, which means the strength of this alliance."

"And that includes Mr Putin," she added.

While the drill has been planned for several years, Russia's invasion of Ukraine has jolted NATO into preparing in earnest for the possibility of an attack on its territory.

Sweden, which is hoping to join the alliance, and Japan are also taking part in the exercise.


Kakhovka dam collapse biggest environmental disaster for Ukraine since Chernobyl

The environmental destruction wrought by the water from the dam is the worst Ukraine has experienced since the fall of the USSR.

Our security and defence analyst Michael Clarke described it as "the biggest environmental disaster to hit Ukraine since Chernobyl".

"The residential areas near the dam have been completely inundated with water on both the Ukrainian and Russian sides," he added.

As to who is to blame for the incident, he says that despite Ukraine and Russia blaming each other, privately everyone at the UN thinks they know what happened.

"Officially, they say they are waiting for evidence, but it is pretty clear that the UN will gather that evidence and there will be an awful lot of recriminations because of this."

Yesterday, Clarke explained that he was "absolutely certain" Russia was responsible, saying "no artillery shells in the world could do that to a dam".


What happened to Ukraine after the Soviet Union collapsed? ›

Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Ukraine became an independent state, formalized with a referendum. With the enlargement of the European Union in 2004, Ukraine became an area of overlapping spheres of influence between the European Union and the Russian Federation in the post-Soviet era.

How old is Russia country? ›

The Kievan Rus states unified in 879 but originally dates as far back as 862. The Russia that we know today was created under a federation in 1991, following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This makes Russia as old as 1160 years, and as young as 31 years.

Was Ukraine a part of Poland? ›

Answer and Explanation: In the 15th and 16th centuries, most of modern Ukraine was a part of Poland. In the 17th century, Poland and Russia struggled for control of western Ukraine. In the 18th century, Poland was partitioned and the territory was transferred to Russia.

What is the reason for conflict between Russia and Ukraine? ›

Following Ukraine's Revolution of Dignity, Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and supported pro-Russian separatists fighting the Ukrainian military in the Donbas war. The first eight years of conflict also included naval incidents, cyberwarfare, and heightened political tensions.

What happens after the Soviet Union collapses? ›

The Belovezha Accords were signed on 8 December by President Boris Yeltsin of Russia, President Kravchuk of Ukraine, and Chairman Shushkevich of Belarus, recognizing each other's independence and creating the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) to replace the Soviet Union.

Did Russia lose the war with Georgia? ›

Russia recognised the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgia on 26 August and the Georgian government severed diplomatic relations with Russia. Russia mostly completed its withdrawal of troops from undisputed parts of Georgia on 8 October. Russian international relations were largely unharmed.

Is Russia in the third or first world? ›

First World Countries: Politically and Industrially
CountryOriginal PoliticalModern Industrial
RussiaSecond WorldFirst World
United KingdomFirst WorldFirst World
ChinaSecond WorldFirst World
AustraliaFirst WorldFirst World
2 more rows
Jul 20, 2021

What is the living age in Russia? ›

The current life expectancy for Russia in 2023 is 72.98 years, a 0.19% increase from 2022. The life expectancy for Russia in 2022 was 72.84 years, a 0.19% increase from 2021. The life expectancy for Russia in 2021 was 72.70 years, a 0.19% increase from 2020.

What was Russia called before 1917? ›

The Russian Empire, also known as Imperial Russia, was the final period of the Russian monarchy from its proclamation in November 1721, until its dissolution in late 1917.

How many Poles were killed by Ukrainians? ›

Poland says the 1943-44 massacre of some 100,000 Poles by Ukrainian nationalists was genocide. Entire villages were burned down and all their inhabitants killed by nationalists and their helpers who sought to establish an independent Ukraine state.

Why does Poland support Ukraine so much? ›

Polish national security strategy includes support for Ukraine's further involvement in European security arrangements (and its membership of Nato). This is important for Poland to counterbalance the influence of the Russian Federation.

How do Russians feel about the war? ›

24, 2022, invasion: On average, Russians still seem to support the war, even if not with the overwhelming positivity that the Kremlin might suggest. Even dips in national level public support have recovered over time, as polling showed was the case after Putin announced the “partial mobilization” in September.

What does Putin want? ›

First, he wants to subjugate Ukraine, tearing down its statehood. Secondly, he hopes, by strangling Ukraine, to force the West to accept his ultimatum — rebuilding in Europe a Yalta-esque order with spheres of influence and securing a Western pledge to not interfere in Russia's geopolitical backyard.

Why is Ukraine important to the United States? ›

The United States must maintain its course on Ukraine because it is essential to America's national security interests and democratic values. A Ukraine defeat would create a more dangerous and unstable world.

What happened to Ukraine after the Russian revolution? ›

Ukraine was a rump state of its former self. In December 1922, with Bolsheviks secure in their power over its territory, Soviet Ukraine joined the Russian, Byelorussian, and Transcaucasian republics to form the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

What happened to Ukraine after the Holodomor? ›

Legacy and Aftermath. The Holodomor ended in 1933. Collectivization was complete with all farmland becoming a socialist property and all farmers working for the state. According to recent demographic studies, 13.3 percent of Ukraine's population died at the time of the Holodomor.

What parts of Ukraine were destroyed by Russia? ›

In fact, there are many more destroyed settlements. Cities such as Rubizhne, Popasna, Volnovakha, Lyman and Izium have also suffered greatly at the hands of the occupiers. We should not forget that the russian army continues its aggression against Ukraine.

How did Ukraine get rid of communism? ›

Following the 2014 Revolution of Dignity and beginning of the Russo-Ukrainian War, the Ukrainian government approved laws that banned communist symbols, as well as symbols of Nazism as ideologies deemed to be totalitarian.


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