June 6, 2023 Russia-Ukraine news

By Tara Subramaniam, Jessie Yeung, Sana Noor Haq, Sebastian Shukla, Schams Elwazer, Caolán Magee, Aditi Sangal, Adrienne Vogt, Elise Hammond, Maureen Chowdhury and Tori B. Powell, CNN

Updated 12:01 a.m. ET, June 7, 2023
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6:12 p.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Ukrainian regions reliant on Nova Kakhovka reservoir detail measures to conserve water 

From CNN's Yulia Kesaieva and Jo Shelley

Several Ukrainian regions that get some of their water supply from the reservoir of the Nova Kakhovka dam, which collapsed overnight, are making efforts to conserve water.

In the Dnipropetrovsk region, the local authorities have asked people in the Nikopol and Kryvyi Rih districts – parts of which are supplied by the reservoir – to "stock technical water and drinking water." Serhii Lysak, the Ukrainian regional governor clarified on Telegram that “both of them have water available as of now."

About 70% of the city of Kryvyi Rih was supplied by the reservoir, Oleksandr Vilkul, the head of the city military administration, said on his Telegram channel, adding that the situation there is difficult but controlled.

Vilkul listed a number of measures to conserve water, including reducing water pressure overnight, asking businesses to limit consumption and banning the use of hoses.

“We realized the risks of not having Kakhovka water a year ago and have already implemented a large list of technical measures to ensure the city's life in these conditions, which now gives us a head start,” he said. 

In the Nikopol district, all water utilities are operating normally, according to the local authority.

Officials are asking people not to use their stockpiled water “as long as there is water in the tap and in the store. This is your stockpile for the period when the water is gone and the water delivery will just start. Of course, if such a period comes.” 

In the Ukrainian-held part of the Zaporizhzhia region, only one settlement may face challenges with its water supply, said Yurii Malashko, the head of the Ukrainian regional military administration. That would only occur if the water levels dropped below 14 meters, in which case Malashko said there would be water tankers to supply drinking water.

 

6:06 p.m. ET, June 6, 2023

House Foreign Affairs chairman rejects Senate GOP demands for separate Ukraine funding package

From CNN's Manu Raju and Morgan Rimmer

Michael McCaul, House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, said he believes Congress will pass more funding for Ukraine, despite Speaker Kevin McCarthy’s warning that more funding for the war must fall under the budget caps in the new debt ceiling law

Senate Republican critics of the law say Pentagon funding levels are insufficient and are calling on Congress to a pass a new separate spending package — known on Capitol Hill as a supplemental — to provide aid to Ukraine in its war against Russia. 

But McCarthy has thrown cold water on calls for a supplemental, and McCaul seemed to side with the speaker. 

"If your first process is 'I need a supplemental,' you’re not paying attention, not you, but the Senators are not paying attention to how the system works," McCaul said. "We will go through the appropriations process and we will do the numbers that we just agreed to. The idea that they think they are going to go around it is not going to work.” 

McCaul also called on the US President Joe Biden's administration to provide more to Ukraine from funds Congress already appropriated.

"I just got out of a briefing with some of the Ukraine forces and, you know, they're prepared to mount this counteroffensive, and my criticism of the administration is they haven't given them everything they need,” he said. “They won't get in the long range artillery to hit Crimea. So now Britain has done that, the Brits and the French. They need the cluster munitions and we won't give them. Finally the F-16s under threat, under pressure from the G7, but they don't have the pilots, it'll take three to six months for that.”
5:50 p.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Dam collapse possibly the most significant damage to civilian infrastructure since start of war, UN says

From CNN’s Richard Roth and Hira Humayun

The breach in the Nova Kakhovka dam is seen in a screen grab taken from a video obtained by Reuters.
The breach in the Nova Kakhovka dam is seen in a screen grab taken from a video obtained by Reuters. Reuters

The collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam is possibly the “most significant incident of damage to civilian infrastructure” since the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to Martin Griffiths, UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator.

The dam is a lifeline in the region as a critical water source for millions of people in Kherson as well as Dnipro and Zaporizhzhia oblasts, he said, and a key source of agricultural irrigation in southern Kherson and the Crimean peninsula – impacting farming and food production.

Griffiths added that a severe impact is expected in Russian-occupied areas where humanitarian agencies are still struggling to gain access.

The UN aid chief, speaking to the Security Council on Tuesday, also highlighted the danger fast-moving water poses to the risks of mine and explosive ordinance contamination, displacing the projectiles to areas previously assessed as safe.

Griffiths pointed out the impact the dam’s collapse will have on electricity generation and the safety of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

“The damage caused by the dam’s destruction means that life will become intolerably harder for those already suffering from the conflict,” Griffiths said, “The consequences of not being able to deliver assistance to the millions of people affected by the flooding in these areas are potentially catastrophic.”

 

6:12 p.m. ET, June 6, 2023

US envoy to the UN calls dam collapse "yet another casualty in Russia's brutal invasion"

From CNN's Jonny Hallam

Deputy US Ambassador Robert Wood accused Russia's war in Ukraine of being responsible for the catastrophic damage following the breach of the Nova Kakhovka dam.

Wood, who is an alternate representative for special political affairs to the United Nations, stressed that although the US is "not certain" who is to blame for the collapse, that it was "yet another casualty in Russia's brutal, full-scale invasion of Ukraine." 

"I want to make absolutely clear," Wood told a UN Security Council meeting on the situation in Ukraine Tuesday. "It was Russia that started this war. It was Russia that occupied this area of Ukraine. And it was Russian forces that took over the dam illegally last year and have been occupying ever since." 

It is unclear what caused the dam to collapse in the late evening of Monday or early hours of Tuesday. Both Ukrainian and Russian officials said the dam collapsed in an explosion and are blaming each other for it.

 

5:19 p.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Kyiv and Moscow point fingers at each other for collapse of critical dam

From CNN's Josh Pennington and Jo Shelley

Both Ukraine and Russia are blaming each other for the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam Tuesday as residents in the area rush to evacuate.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has described the collapse as “an environmental bomb of mass destruction” while the Russian Foreign Ministry said it was caused by an “act of sabotage” by Ukraine.

“For the sake of their own security, the world should now show that Russia will not get away with such terror," Zelensky said in his nightly address to the nation Tuesday. He called on the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to "involve international justice" and investigate what caused the collapse.

Only the “complete liberation of Ukrainian land from Russian occupiers… will guarantee that such acts of terrorism will not happen again,” he said.

It is not clear whether the dam was deliberately attacked or whether the breach was the result of structural failure. 

“This act of sabotage by the Kiev regime has caused devastating damage to the farmland in the region and the ecosystem at the mouth of the Dnieper river. The inevitable drop in the water level of the Kakhovka reservoir will affect Crimea’s water supply and will hinder the improvement of agricultural land in the Kherson region,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

 

5:51 p.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Ukraine awaits final agreements with allies on delivery of F-16 jets, Zelensky says

From CNN’s Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv and Jo Shelley in London

Ukraine is waiting for final agreements with its allies on the delivery of F-16 jets, President Volodymyr Zelensky told journalists on Tuesday.

"Our partners know how many aircraft we need. I have already received an understanding of the number from some of our European partners, and it is powerful. I am very happy with the information I received from some countries … It was a serious, powerful offer," Zelensky said.

A news release on the Ukrainian presidency’s website about the conversation said Zelensky had met the leaders of countries ready to provide Ukraine with F-16s on a recent trip to Moldova.

“Now we [Ukraine] still need a joint agreement with the United States,” the release said. 

The Biden administration gave its backing for Kyiv’s pilots to be trained on US-made F-16s at the G7 summit in Japan on May 19 and has signaled to allies — some of whom have a supply of the jets — it won’t block their export to Ukraine. 

Training on the F-16s has started in several EU countries, the bloc’s High Representative, Josep Borrell, told reporters last month

 

6:12 p.m. ET, June 6, 2023

US humanitarian agency says it's working with partners to assist in aftermath of dam collapse

From CNN's Jennifer Hansler

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) said it is working closely with humanitarian partners to assist those impacted by flooding from the destroyed Nova Kakhovka dam.

“Evacuations are underway via buses, trains, and private vehicles,” USAID spokesperson Jessica Jennings said Tuesday. “USAID was able to activate pre-positioned resources to provide buses in the immediate hours following the breach.”

She added that the agency has bought fuel vouchers for evacuation volunteers, that partners are assessing secondary disaster risks and that they have "been prepared throughout this crisis for potential displacements."

"As a result, our partners are already mobilizing pre-positioned supplies for distribution at evacuation points, including hygiene kits, non-food items, hot meals, and safe drinking water, and multi-purpose cash assistance for other basic necessities,” Jennings said.
“USAID is also supporting the State Emergency Service of Ukraine (SESU) and other emergency response actors with purchasing and delivering water purification equipment, water pumps for water removal, hygiene kits, food kits and household items, rescue equipment, boat motors and engine parts, and boat rental services,” she added.

Jennings said that the “immediate priority needs include food and safe drinking water at evacuee reception points in Kherson city, as well as safe accommodations for those remaining in Kherson city.”

 

4:25 p.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Exclusive: Ukrainian troops witnessed Russian soldiers swept away in dam breach floodwaters

From CNN's Sam Kiley and Olha Konavolava in Kharkiv

Capt. Andrei Pidlisnyi speaks with CNN on Tuesday, June 6.
Capt. Andrei Pidlisnyi speaks with CNN on Tuesday, June 6. CNN

Ukrainian troops witnessed Russian soldiers being swept up in flood waters and fleeing the east bank of the Dnipro River after the collapse of the Nova Khakovka dam, an officer in Ukraine's armed forces said. Many Russian troops were killed or wounded in the chaos, according to the officer. 

Capt. Andrei Pidlisnyi said when the dam collapsed in the early hours of Tuesday morning “no one on the Russian side was able to get away. All the regiments the Russians had on that side were flooded.” 

Pidlisnyi told CNN he believed the Russians had deliberately attacked the dam to disrupt Ukrainian forces’ plans for an upcoming offensive. 

“Around 3 a.m., the enemy blew up the Kakhovka Hydro Power Plant in order to raise the water level to flood the approaches and the left bank of the Dnipro River, as well as the settlements located there. And to make it impossible for the Ukrainian armed forces to advance in the future," he claimed.

Pidlisnyi explained that the lie of the land around the river meant that Russia’s military — located on the east bank — suffered serious impacts in the dam’s breach. His unit was able to watch the events unfold through the use of drones and troops on the scene.

“The left [east] bank is lower than the right bank, so it is more flooded. The enemy’s positions right on the riverbank were also flooded. You need to understand that the enemy's positions are not only trenches but also ordinary civilian houses where they lived," Pidlisnyi said.

The Russian units in harm’s way may not have been warned, possibly to maintain the element of surprise, Pidlisnyi said.

Pointing blame: Ukraine’s government has echoed Pidlisnyi’s contention that Russia deliberately blew up the dam, while the Kremlin has said it was Kyiv’s forces that carried out an attack. 

In fact, evidence to conclusively support either side’s claim is yet to emerge, while analysis of videos of the dam, and its subsequent breach, and in particular examination of satellite imagery, suggest the collapse could have been the result of structural failure since the Russians occupied the dam in March last year.

Watch:

 

4:16 p.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Zelensky claims that Russia bears “criminal liability” for dam collapse 

From CNN’s Yulia Kesaieva in Kyiv and Jo Shelley in London 

Zelensky addresses the dam collapse on Tuesday, June 6.
Zelensky addresses the dam collapse on Tuesday, June 6. Reuters

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky again blamed Moscow for the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam and said Russia should bear “criminal liability” for “ecocide."

"In our opinion, this is a crime, the Prosecutor General's Office has already registered it. It will have evidence. There is a modern classification — ecocide,” Zelensky said in an interview with national media on Tuesday.

Adding, "I think that there should be criminal liability... International institutions, including the International Criminal Court, should react."

Both Kyiv and Moscow accuse each other of being behind the major breach of the dam, although it is not clear whether the dam was deliberately attacked or whether the collapse was the result of structural failure. 

Zelensky referred to a report by Ukrainian intelligence last year that claimed occupying Russian troops had mined the dam. 

Between 35 and 80 settlements were expected to be flooded due to the breach, he said, and his government was working to provide residents in flooded areas, and those neighboring it, with drinking water. 

"The consequences of the tragedy will be clear in a week. When the water goes away, it will become clear what is left and what will happen next,” he said. 

In a tweet later on Tuesday, Zelensky said he had spoken to the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Rafael Grossi, and that they had “discussed ways to minimize risks to #ZNPP [Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant] security,” which Grossi is due to visit next week

The ZNPP uses water from the dam at Nova Kakhovka to cool its nuclear reactors.