Russia broke international law by destroying Ukraine dam: Ukrainian Diplomat
TOKYO (NA) – The destruction of a dam in Ukraine was a Russian act and “forbidden by international conventions,” Kyiv’s ambassador to Japan said.
“It is absolutely clear that [it] was done by Russians,” Sergiy Korsunsky told Nikkei on Tuesday. He pointed to intelligence received by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy last October indicating that Russia had planted explosives at the dam.
At least 600 sq. kilometers of Ukraine’s Kherson region was flooded after the Nova Kakhovka dam break on June 6, the region’s governor said last week.
Asked whether he considered it a war crime, Korsunsky said, “of course,” adding: “It’s actually like you create artificial tsunami on the river.”
Korsunsky also condemned Russian troops for allegedly shooting at civilians trying to evacuate flooded areas.
“This is genocide,” he said.
Korsunsky said Russian claims that the dam break was the result of Ukrainian sabotage were “absolute nonsense.”
“If you listen to them, we kill ourselves… we kill our own children, destroy our own cities, hospitals, schools. Why would we blow up the dam if that is a huge loss of people, of economy?” Korsunsky said.
Zelenskyy has confirmed that Ukrainian forces have launched a long-awaited counteroffensive to recapture Russian-occupied areas.
“We liberated, if I’m not mistaken, around nine small villages already,” Korsunsky said, while acknowledging that the situation is “very complex.”
Russian forces have set up a fortified line of trenches and land mines in anticipation of a Ukrainian attack. Although it has been difficult to break through, Korsunsky said the Ukrainian military was “moving forward” using tanks, armored vehicles and rocket launchers provided by the West.
“We do have losses, unfortunately, in equipment and personnel and that is why we try to move in a very cautious manner,” he said.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Friday pledged $5 million in humanitarian aid for Ukraine following the collapse of the dam. “We are very grateful,” Korsunsky said.
“We need temporary housing for people, or we need water-cleaning technologies… for hundreds of thousands of people,” he said. “Very few countries did the same,” he said of Japan’s pledge.
There is a plan to hold a conference on the reconstruction of Ukraine in Japan early next year.
“We expect Japan to play the major leader role” in the reconstruction of Ukraine given its experience rebuilding after World War II and major natural disasters, he said.
Japan has accepted more than 2,000 refugees from Ukraine. About 400 are students studying at Japanese universities, and many others are working at hotels, Japanese-style inns, golf courses and restaurants as the country reopens for tourism.
“I never heard one complaint” from any Ukrainian resident of Japan, Korsunsky said.