Both Ukraine and Russia requested emergency meetings of the UN Security Council on Tuesday to address the destruction of the Kakhovka dam on the Dnieper River.
According to EFE, both Ukraine and Russia wrote to the rotating presidency of the Council – which this month is held by the United Arab Emirates – to request a meeting on the matter.
It’s not clear what caused the breach in the Kakhovka dam, which was already damaged by Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The dam had held back the Dnieper River in a Russian-occupied area in the south. Ukraine accused Russian forces of blowing up the facility, while Russian officials blamed Ukrainian military strikes.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres said on Tuesday morning that the UN “does not have access to independent information on the circumstances” of the destruction of the dam.
“But one thing is clear: this is another devastating consequence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” he said.
Tens of thousands of people at risk
Before it was damaged, the dam helped provide electricity, irrigation and drinking water to a wide swath of southern Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula, which was illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
As floodwaters swelled, both Russian and Ukrainian authorities ordered evacuations of at least 80 towns and villages, though neither side reported any deaths.
Officials said about 22,000 people live in areas at risk of flooding in Russian-controlled areas, while 16,000 live in the most critical zone in Ukrainian-held territory.
The river’s waters also supply cooling systems at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. However, the Ukrainian operator of Europe’s largest power plant and the UN atomic energy agency said there was no immediate risk to safety.
The Russian-installed director of the plant, Yuri Chernichuk, echoed the UN agency and said that “at the moment, there is no security threat to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.”
“The water level in the cooling pond has not changed,” he said, adding that the “situation was controlled by personnel.”