Ukraine’s largest hydroelectric dam in critical condition after Russian strikes, authorities say

Ukraine’s largest hydroelectric dam, the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP), is in “critical condition” after it was hit in a Russian strike on Ukraine’s key energy facilities, authorities say.

The head of the Zaporizhzhia region military administration, Ivan Fedorov, told Ukrainian television that the power plant can no longer produce electricity.

Traffic around the plant is “completely blocked,” he said, with residents being forced to drive over bridges to get around, he said.

Russia has continued its tactic of striking key energy facilities this week, with the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy warning Sunday of a “significant power shortage” as a knock-on effect of the strikes.

The ministry said that emergency blackouts were carried out in several regions of Ukraine after “six massive attacks.”

Ukraine’s Ministry of Energy said power facilities in the regions of Zaporizhzhia, Dnipropetrovsk, Donetsk, Kirovohrad, and Ivano-Frankivsk were hit, in what the ministry called “the sixth massive missile and drone strike on energy facilities since March 22.”

Russia’s defense ministry said these attacks were carried out “in response to attempts by the Kyiv regime to damage Russian energy and transport facilities.”

Ukraine is on the back foot along the frontlines as it faces continued aerial assaults. In May, Russian opened up a new front with a surprise attack on north-eastern Kharkiv, exploiting Ukrainian shortages of weaponry and manpower.

The Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, attending a summit of defense chiefs in Singapore, called on countries across the Asia-Pacific to join an upcoming peace summit he accused Russia of trying to thwart.

He thanked US President Joe Biden for “an important decision” to permit Ukraine to use American munitions for limited strikes within Russian territory but said it was not enough.

Last year, the Nova Kakhovka dam, a major dam and hydro-electric power plant in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine collapsed.

The cause of the collapse is still not confirmed, though a number of civil engineering experts suggested that an explosion inside the structure was the most likely cause of the dam breach.

Several Western officials blamed Russia for the disaster at the time, either directly accusing Moscow of targeting the dam or saying that Russia was responsible simply because it is the aggressor in the war on Ukraine.

Russia denied any involvement in the disaster and in turn accused Ukraine of destroying the dam, without providing evidence.

Ivana Kottasová and Gianluca Mezzofiore contributed to this report.

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