A top US national security official sharply criticized Moscow over Ukraine's claim that Russian forces are shelling Ukrainian-held parts of the Kherson region as rescue workers try to evacuate civilians from flood zones.
“It is incorrigible, these reports — now, I'm not in a position to confirm them — but if true, just absolutely incorrigible that, that rescuers, or people trying to be rescued, would come under fire from Russian forces, from whatever firing positions across the river that they're using,” White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
“This is a life and death situation here, and it's a situation caused by this devastating flood that we want to make sure we get humanitarian assistance in there,” he added.
Kirby pointed to humanitarian efforts from USAID to assist in the rescue and evacuation of civilians following the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam earlier this week, noting agencies were working with humanitarian partners on the ground to provide transportation, water purification equipment and rescue capabilities in the region.
“We have been at this really since just a couple of hours after the breach, and we're going to stay committed to that,” he said. “We’ve got good eyes on and good partners on the ground there, and so we're gonna keep doing that — there'll be more support coming from the United States as needed.”
Key context: Both Russia and Ukraine are accusing each other of shelling during the evacuations. Kyiv and Moscow also accuse each other of causing the breach in the first place, although it is unclear whether the dam was deliberately attacked, or whether the collapse was the result of structural failure.