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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3:24 p.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Dam break is "another devastating consequence" of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, UN secretary general says

From CNN's Richard Roth

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said Tuesday that it's clear that the collapse of the dam in the southern Kherson region is "another devastating consequence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine."

He added that the UN doesn't have access to information to independently verify the cause.

"We have all seen the tragic images coming out today of the monumental humanitarian, economic and ecological catastrophe in the Kherson region of Ukraine," Guterres told reporters.

"Today’s tragedy is yet another example of the horrific price of war on people. The floodgates of suffering have been overflowing for more than a year," he added. "That must stop. Attacks against civilians and critical civilian infrastructure must stop."

Guterres said that in response, the United Nations and humanitarian partners are "rushing support in coordination with the Government of Ukraine – including drinking water and water purification tablets and other critical assistance."   

"Above all, I appeal for a just peace in line with the UN Charter, international law and the resolutions of the General Assembly," the official said.

The United Nations Security Council will meet at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday afternoon to discuss the dam collapse, a US official told CNN.

CNN's Jennifer Hansler contributed reporting to this post.

11:19 a.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Ukraine evacuating residents of Kherson region as fast as possible, economic minister says

From CNN's Hande Atay Alam

Local residents wait for an evacuation train, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, at a railway station in Kherson, Ukraine, on June 6.
Local residents wait for an evacuation train, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, at a railway station in Kherson, Ukraine, on June 6. Viktoriia Lakezina/Reuters

Ukraine is trying to evacuate residents of the Kherson region "as quickly as possible" after a major dam in southern Ukraine collapsed, Economy Minister Yuliia Svyrydenko told CNN on Tuesday. 

Svyrydenko told CNN that 80 settlements are currently in a flood zone.

"What we are trying to do right now is to evacuate people as quickly as possible," she said.

Ukraine has accused Moscow’s forces of committing an act of "ecocide." The Kremlin denied involvement and accused Ukraine of "deliberate sabotage" of the Nova Kakhovka dam, which supplies water for much of southeastern Ukraine, including the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant and the Crimean peninsula.

"We are absolutely sure that it is not structural damage, we are absolutely sure that it was done by the Russian side. And it's a big man-made disaster," Svyrydenko said, adding, "It was used as an ecological weapon."

11:15 a.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Here are other headlines from Russia's war in Ukraine

From CNN staff

The Pope's envoy met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv to discuss a peace plan. Here are some other headlines from the region as Russia's war in Ukraine continues. 

Vatican envoy: The special Vatican envoy, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, met with Zelensky and other government officials in Kyiv to discuss Ukraine's proposed peace plan, Zelensky said on Telegram Tuesday, calling on the Vatican to "contribute to the implementation of the Ukrainian peace plan."

"Only united efforts, diplomatic isolation and pressure on Russia can influence the aggressor and bring a just peace to the Ukrainian land," the president added.

Serbia not opposed to indirect ammunition supply to Ukraine: Despite the country's neutral status, Serbian President Aleksander Vucic says he is not opposed to the country’s ammunition indirectly ending up in Ukrainian hands, despite his country’s commitment to remaining neutral in the war in Ukraine. This comes after a report claimed that the leaked Pentagon documents show Serbia had sent or was planning to send lethal aid to Ukraine, which the defense minister had denied.

“I’m not a fool. I am aware that some of the arms might end up in Ukraine,” Vucic said in an interview with the Financial Times. “Is it possible that it’s happening? I have no doubts that it might happen […] What is the alternative for us? Not to produce it? Not to sell it?”

US House speaker receives pushback on Ukraine aid comments: A handful of defense hawks pushed back against US House Speaker Kevin McCarthy's assertion yesterday that a Ukraine supplemental package had no chance in the House. Taking such a stand puts him at odds with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell. Longtime appropriator Rep. Tom Cole also said that the aid should be provided if needed, arguing that those who don't want to help Ukraine and view it as going above the top-line defense number agreed to in the debt ceiling are "wrong."

11:16 a.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Satellite images show Nova Kakhovka dam was damaged days before collapse

From CNN’s Allegra Goodwin and Gianluca Mezzofiore in London 


The Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine on May 28, 2023.
The Nova Kakhovka dam in Ukraine on May 28, 2023. Satellite image © 2023 Maxar Technologies

The critical Nova Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine was damaged just days before suffering a major structural collapse in the late evening of Monday or early hours of Tuesday, a CNN analysis reveals. 

CNN cannot independently verify whether the damage to the road bridge played a part in the dam’s collapse, or whether it was destroyed in a deliberate attack by one of the warring parties.

Satellite imagery from Maxar shows the road bridge that ran across the dam was intact on May 28, but imagery from June 5 shows a section of the same bridge missing. Analysis of lower resolution satellite imagery suggests the loss of the bridge section took place between June 1 and 2. 

Some background: Meanwhile, data shows water levels in the reservoir behind the dam were at record highs last month, according to the Hydroweb information service. Levels had plummeted earlier in the year, the same data shows, prompting Ukrainian officials in February to warn of possible shortages in drinking water supplies, and water for agricultural use. 

12:01 p.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Hundreds of people in flooded districts of Kherson city have been evacuated, regional official says

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

A local resident walks along a flooded street in Kherson, Ukraine, on June 6.
A local resident walks along a flooded street in Kherson, Ukraine, on June 6. Nina Lyashonok/AP

Around 600 people who live in flooded parts of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson have been evacuated to the city center, according to Roman Mrochko, the Ukrainian head of the Kherson city military administration. 

In a video posted to his Telegram channel, Mrochko filmed himself standing in a flooded area that he identified as the city’s Korabel district, where he said the water level “has risen 2.5 meters (about 8 feet).”

“The city’s military administration has provided over 30 buses, which evacuated the citizens of flooded districts to the city center – around 600 citizens,” Mrochko said. “People with limited mobility were evacuated as well. They were taken to hospitals and humanitarian headquarters. Some of the citizens expressed a desire to evacuate to other cities of Ukraine free of charge.” 

“I would like to urge all the residents who have not yet evacuated to do so, because, according to preliminary estimates, the water level will continue rising until 5 a.m. (local) tomorrow,” he added. 

Mrochko said “approximately 29 streets and lanes” had been flooded.

He said the neighborhoods experiencing rising floodwaters include: Naftogavan, Hydropark, Ostrivske highway, Mykhailivska street, Koshevyi descent, Prychalna, Flotski Lane, Nasypnyi Lane.

He added that authorities had cut off energy and gas supplies to the Ostriv district “to prevent any accidents.” 

Remember: Russian troops captured the city of Kherson at the beginning of the full-scale invasion, but withdrew from the city to the east bank of the Dnipro River in October 2022 when Ukrainian forces mounted a counteroffensive. Russia has still controlled half of the entire Kherson region.

10:28 a.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Residents of Kherson region are evacuating as water levels rise. Here's what we know about the dam collapse

From CNN staff

Kyiv and Moscow exchanged accusations over the collapse of a sprawling dam in Ukraine's Russian-occupied Kherson region, triggering a wave of evacuations as floods of water spilled from the Nova Kakhovka hydro-electric plant.

Here are the latest developments:

  • "Terrorist attack and war crime": The Ukrainian defense ministry claimed Russian forces blew up the dam "in panic" amid heightening speculation that a major push by Kyiv to recapture land held by Russia’s occupying forces could be getting underway.
  • Moscow accuses Ukraine of "deliberate sabotage": Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said he "strongly rejects" allegations Russia is responsible for damaging the dam, instead accusing Ukraine of "deliberate sabotage." He claimed Kyiv wanted to “deprive Crimea of water” and distract from the battlefield.
  • Mass evacuations: Ukrainian authorities have evacuated at least 885 people from the liberated west bank of the Dnipro River near the dam. Meanwhile, Russian-appointed authorities in Nova Kakhovka on the occupied east bank also said they were preparing evacuations due to rising water levels.
  • "The city is flooded": The Russian-appointed mayor of Nova Kakhovka said the southern Ukrainian city was submerged in water after the dam burst overnight.
  • Zaporizhzhia power plant: Further east, the UN's nuclear watchdog said it is "closely monitoring the situation" at the Zaporizhzhia power plant, following the destruction of the nearby Nova Kakhovka dam. The International Atomic Energy Agency said Tuesday there is "no immediate nuclear safety risk."

11:37 a.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Russian Investigative Committee probes into collapse of Nova Kahkovka dam 

From CNN’s Anna Chernova

The Russian Investigative Committee has initiated a criminal case probe into the collapse of the dam at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station, leading to flooding in the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.

The committee opened the case under the charge of a terrorist act committed by a group of individuals, causing significant property damage and other severe consequences, follows from the official statement on Telegram. 

The flooding of settlements in the Kherson region was caused by the destruction of the power station by the armed forces of Ukraine, according to Russia’s Investigative Committee.

What Ukraine is saying: Meanwhile, multiple senior Ukrainian officials and military figures accused the Kremlin of sabotaging the dam Tuesday, saying Russian forces blew up the dam “in panic."

The Russia-installed Nova Kakhovka administration said Tuesday it was preparing a “planned evacuation” of citizens due to rising water levels caused by damage to the Kakhovka dam, urging residents to gather essentials.

10:28 a.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Why the Nova Kakhovka dam — and its collapse — are significant 

From CNN's Helen Regan, Jonny Hallam, Josh Pennington, Olga Voitovych and Irene Nasser

A major dam and hydro-electric power plant in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine collapsed early Tuesday, prompting mass evacuations and fears for large-scale devastation as Ukraine accused Moscow’s forces of committing an act of “ecocide.”

The critical Nova Kakhovka dam spans the Dnipro River, a major waterway running through southeastern Ukraine and there are multiple towns and cities downstream, including Kherson, a city of some 300,000 people before Moscow’s invasion of its neighbor.

A critical piece of infrastructure, the dam holds back around 18 cubic kilometers in the Kakhovka Reservoir, about equal to the Great Salt Lake in the US state of Utah, according to Reuters news agency.

The 30-meter-high, 3.2-kilometer (2 miles)-long structure is one of six dams along the Dnipro and supplies water for much of southeastern Ukraine and the Crimean peninsula which was annexed by Russia in 2014.

It also supplies water for the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, which lies upstream and is also under Russian control.

On Tuesday, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s southern command said the dam’s collapse will “certainly” affect the operation of the nuclear power plant but there was “no need to escalate the situation now and draw the most critical conclusions.”

And the International Atomic Energy agency said “no immediate nuclear safety risk” exists at the Zaporizhzhia plant and their experts are “closely monitoring the situation.”

Ukraine’s nuclear agency Energoatom said that while water from the reservoir is needed for the “replenishment for turbine condensers and safety systems” of the plant, the cooling pond is “full” and as of 8 a.m. local time “the water level is 16.6 meters, which is sufficient for the plant’s needs.”

In November, the Nova Kakhovka dam was damaged in shelling and satellite images from Maxar Technologies obtained by CNN showed water flowing out of three sluice gates at the dam.

Here's where the dam is located:

10:30 a.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Ukrainian prime minister: There are "no civilian casualties" as a result of flooding after dam collapse

From CNN's Olga Voitovych in Kyiv

A person wades through floodwaters as police officers conduct patrols and help citizens evacuate to safe places following floods in Kherson region, Ukraine, on June 6.
A person wades through floodwaters as police officers conduct patrols and help citizens evacuate to safe places following floods in Kherson region, Ukraine, on June 6. National Police of Ukraine/Reuters

Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said there have been “no civilian casualties due to high water” after the collapse of a major dam in Russian-occupied Kherson region early Tuesday.

The prime minister reiterated that there are provisions for drinking water and the situation around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant is “under control”.

The Nova Kakhovka dam supplies water to the nuclear plant, which lies upstream along the Dnipro River. It's destruction has renewed concerns for nuclear power plant safety.

At the other side of the dam, people have been evacuated from at risk areas amid fears that rising water levels could threaten the lives of Ukrainians.

A total of 885 people have been evacuated across Kherson region, according to an update earlier Tuesday from the Ukrainian Interior Ministry on Telegram.

“About 80 settlements" are in the flood zone along the Dnipro River, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky posted on Telegram following an emergency meeting of the National Security and Defence Council.

Zelensky went on to say evacuations have been ordered with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, Russian-installed mayor of Nova Kakhovka, Vladimir Leontyev, in an interview with Russian state TV Russia 24, said that evacuations of homes located along the Dnipro River in Nova Kakhovka are also underway.

Kyiv and Moscow blamed each other for the incident. Ukrainian military have accused Russian forces of destroying the Nova Kakhovka dam. The Kremlin have denied involvement and accused Ukraine of "deliberate sabotage" of the dam.