Our live coverage of Russia's war in Ukraine has moved here.
Drone video emerged late Monday showing a deluge of water gushing from a sizable breach in the Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine.
Ukraine's Operational Command South on Tuesday confirmed the dam's destruction in a post on their official Facebook saying they were assessing the scale of the destruction and calculating likely areas of flooding.
However, the Russian-installed mayor of Nova Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontiev, on Tuesday denied information about the dam collapsing in an interview with Russian state media RIA Novosti, calling it "nonsense."
The torrent of water seen escaping from the dam in the video has the potential to cause major destruction around Kherson city and other populated areas along the Dnipro River, according to analysts who have been fearing this breach could occur in the fighting.
The flooding could lead to the deaths of thousands of people, according to Russian state media on Tuesday.
The video posted on social media has been geolocated by CNN.
Both Russia and Ukraine have since October 2022 repeatedly accused each of planning to breach the dam using explosives, according to Reuters.
It is impossible to say who is responsible for the damage caused to the dam at this time.
Russia's Defense Ministry said Tuesday (local time) that Ukrainian forces carried out a military operation in southern Donetsk on Monday in an attempt to advance, but that the advance was stopped after the Ukrainians suffered "heavy losses."
The Russian ministry had also said Monday its troops repelled a "large-scale offensive" by Ukrainian forces in southern Donetsk.
On Monday, Ukrainian forces were "hit with a complex weapons strike by the army forces, assault and operational-tactical aviation, missile forces, and artillery, as well as heavy thermobaric systems," the Russian ministry said Tuesday on its Telegram channel.
The ministry also claimed Russian forces destroyed "28 tanks, including eight main battle Leopard tanks," and 109 armored fighting vehicles.
CNN could not independently verify the report, and it has reached out to Ukraine's Defense Ministry for comment and has yet to hear back.
Ukrainian officials claimed that units had retaken territory on the northern and southern flanks of the embattled eastern city of Bakhmut. Ukraine's defense minister said units are "carrying out offensive actions" around the city.
Allied countries continue to pledge their support and watch for the looming Ukrainian counteroffensive.
Here's what to know:
- Ukrainian counteroffensive: The Ukrainian offensive is “taking place in several directions” in the eastern part of the country, according to Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar. She and other officials posted a social media video urging silence over any potential news of a counteroffensive in order to protect plans. Meantime, the United States and the rest of the world are watching closely. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said that while Ukraine is "very well prepared" for a counteroffensive against Russia, it is "too early to tell what outcomes are going to happen."
- Fighting in Bakhmut: Ukrainian troops are making advances on the eastern front around the city of Bakhmut, Maliar said. The founder of the Russian private military company Wagner also said Ukrainian Armed Forces have taken back some land north of the city of Bakhmut. In recent weeks, Ukraine has launched successful counteroffensives in the north and south of the city with some success.
- Other military actions in eastern Ukraine: The Russian Defense Ministry claimed its troops resisted a “large-scale” attack from Ukrainian forces in the eastern Donetsk region. The Russian military claimed in a statement to have killed 250 Ukrainians and destroyed armored vehicles used in the assault, but provided scant evidence. A Russian rocket attack on a residential area in Balaklia in the Kharkiv region killed one person and injured several others, a local official said.
- Fighting spills into Russia: Ukraine has cultivated a network of agents and sympathizers inside Russia working to carry out acts of sabotage against Russian targets, multiple people familiar with US intelligence on the matter told CNN. US officials believe these pro-Ukrainian agents inside Russia carried out a drone attack that targeted the Kremlin in early May by launching drones from within Russia.
- Continued Western support: United Kingdom Foreign Secretary James Cleverly reassured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky that the UK will continue to back Kyiv. During his visit to the country, Cleverly mentioned things like training Ukrainian pilots on fighter jets, talks of a coalition of Patriot defense systems and banking and economic guarantees. Later, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said groups of Ukrainian pilots have been selected for training in the UK where they will learn to fly modern fighter jets.
Groups of Ukrainian pilots have been selected for training in the UK where they will learn to fly modern fighter jets, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said Monday.
In a post on Telegram, Shmyhal said that he had thanked British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly, who is visiting Kyiv, for, “his leadership in creating the ‘coalition of fighter jets’” that Ukraine is lobbying for – and for, “his commitment to train our pilots,” he said.
His Telegram post had earlier said the pilots were headed to the UK, but it was updated later in the day to say they had been selected for training there.
The UK does not have the US-made F-16 fighter jets that Ukraine wants but said after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky’s visit last month that it would give “cohorts of Ukrainian pilots… basic training” that they could “apply [to] a different kind of aircraft.”
US President Joe Biden gave his backing for Kyiv’s pilots to be trained on US-made F-16s at the G7 summit in Japan on May 19. The training has started in several EU countries, the bloc’s High Representative, Josep Borrell, told reporters last month.
Poland, Denmark and the Netherlands are among the countries that have said they will participate in the training. The Netherlands said on May 26 that – despite helping to lead the effort – it had not yet decided whether to deliver the jets to Ukraine.
Correction: This post and headline have been updated to reflect that the pilots have been selected for training in the UK.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky praised troops fighting around Bakhmut after officials claimed that units had retaken territory on the northern and southern flanks of the embattled eastern city.
“I am grateful to every warrior, to all our defenders, who provided us today with the news we have all been waiting for in the Bakhmut direction. Well done, warriors," Zelenksy said in his nightly video address to the nation.
Earlier, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar claimed on Telegram that Ukraine was “carrying out offensive actions” along the eastern front line and had advanced some 200 to 1,600 meters around the settlements of Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Paraskoviivka to the north of Bakhmut, and some 100 to 700 meters around Ivanivske and Klishchiivka, which are southwest of the city.
One person is dead and several others injured after a Russian rocket attack on a residential area in Balaklia in Ukraine’s eastern Kharkiv region on Monday, a local official said.
Oleh Syniehubov, the head of the regional military administration, said nine people were hurt. The person who died was a 57-year-old man, the regional prosecutor’s office said in a post on its Telegram channel.
Balaklia is a town in the Izium district of the Kharkiv region.
President Joe Biden welcomed Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to the White House for an Oval Office bilateral meeting Monday, calling Denmark “one of our greatest allies and most reliable friends.”
The president thanked Frederiksen for meeting his granddaughters during their last visit together, who he said, “are still talking about their meeting with the prime minister,” and wished the PM a happy Constitution Day, noting the Danish holiday, “reflects the fact that we have the same values.”
“And together, we’re working together to protect those values, including standing up for the people of Ukraine against the brutal aggression of Russia,” Biden said. “And together with NATO allies, we're taking steps to strengthen our shared security, including finishing our bilateral defense cooperation agreement that we’re working on.”
The subplot to their conversation about Ukraine and transatlantic security is Frederiksen’s next step.
Frederiksen is widely viewed as a potential contender to replace NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is expected to step down from the post later this year.
The position traditionally goes to a European but would require sign-off by the United States.
Some European diplomats speculate her visit to the White House is an opportunity for Biden and his team to sound her out about the top NATO job.
Frederiksen has said she isn’t currently in the running to head up the military alliance.
"I am not a candidate for the job," she told reporters in Copenhagen, according to Reuters.
Still, that hasn’t quieted speculation she may be in a leading position to earn Biden’s endorsement for the job.
Other candidates for NATO Secretary General could include Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas. Yet the alliance has never previously been led by a woman.
The White House has declined to say whether Biden will discuss the position with Frederiksen on Monday in the Oval Office.
“I’m just not going to get into any speculation as far as that,” press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said last week.
Instead, White House officials say the two will discuss the war in Ukraine, and Biden’s recent reversal to allow F16 fighter jets into the country as a long-term deterrence to Russian aggression. That conversation will continue Thursday when Biden hosts British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
“One of the things we’ll be looking for their perspectives on and the President will be interested in sharing his perspectives on is the long-term security needs of Ukraine,” National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said last week. “And that’s really where the F-16s kind of come into this discussion.”
The Ukrainian offensive is “taking place in several directions,” Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Maliar told Ukrainian television on Monday.
“It is not only about Bakhmut. The offensive is taking place in several directions. We are happy about every meter. Today is a successful day for our forces,” she said.
Earlier, Maliar said on the Telegram messaging app that the country’s troops were “carrying out offensive actions” on the eastern front and had “advanced in several directions” around the city of Bakhmut: near the settlements of Orikhovo-Vasylivka and Paraskoviivka to the north, and near Ivanivske and Klishchiivka to the southwest.
Serhii Cherevatyi, spokesperson for the Eastern Grouping of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, also spoke of “an offensive assault” by the Ukrainians “on the southern and northern flanks of Bakhmut” on national TV on Monday.
“These actions were successful,” Cherevatyi said. “Despite the enemy's fierce resistance, our airborne assault and mechanised units managed to advance along the Siverskyi Donets-Donbas Canal in the direction of Klishchiivka, Orikhovo-Vasylivka, Zaliznianske, and Bohdanivka to a distance of 300 meters to 1 kilometers in various parts of the front line.”
CNN cannot verify the battlefield reports.