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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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.

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

Ukraine calls for UN Security Council meeting and new sanctions against Russia after dam disaster

From CNN’s Olga Voitovych and Amy Cassidy

View of the Nova Kakhovka dam that was breached in Kherson region, Ukraine, on June 6, in this screen grab taken from a video.
View of the Nova Kakhovka dam that was breached in Kherson region, Ukraine, on June 6, in this screen grab taken from a video. Reuters

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry is calling for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council after what it deemed was a Russian attack on the Nova Kakhovka dam, also pleading Tuesday for sanctions against Moscow’s missile and nuclear industry. 

“We call on the international community to resolutely condemn the Russian terrorist attack on the Kakhovka HPP (Hydroelectric Power Plant),” according to a statement from Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, demanding a UNSC session and a meeting with the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

“We also appeal to the countries of the Group of Seven and the EU to urgently consider the imposition of new far-reaching sanctions on the Russian Federation, in particular related to the Russian missile industry and the nuclear sector,” it said.  

The statement doubles down on the accusation that Russia was behind the attack, without providing any evidence.

“We consider the Russian Federation's detonation of the dam of the KHPP as a terrorist act against Ukrainian critical infrastructure, which aims to cause as many civilian casualties and destruction as possible,” according to the ministry.

Moscow accuses Ukraine of being behind the incident. 

It is still not clear whether the dam was deliberately attacked or whether the collapse was the result of structural failure. Analysis of videos of the dam and its breach, as well as of recent satellite imagery, do not yet provide conclusive evidence one way or the other.

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

City flooded following collapse of dam, Russian-installed authorities say 

From CNN’s Katharina Krebs and Anna Chernova

The Nova Kakhovka dam that was breached in Kherson region, Ukraine, on June 6, in this screen grab taken from a video.
The Nova Kakhovka dam that was breached in Kherson region, Ukraine, on June 6, in this screen grab taken from a video. Reuters

A Russian-appointed mayor said the city of Nova Kakhovka in occupied southern Ukraine was submerged in water after a dam burst overnight, triggering a wave of evacuations amid fears of widespread devastation.

"The city is flooded," Vladimir Leontyev said on Russian state TV Rossiya-1. 

The city administration said on Telegram that a local emergency regime had been introduced in the Nova Kakhovka urban district.

Meanwhile, Ukraine's interior ministry announced mass evacuations in liberated areas on the west bank of the Dnipro River near the dam, adding they "are worried" about people in the Russian-occupied east bank.

10:31 a.m. ET, June 6, 2023

Ukraine's military says it is “equipped with all necessary watercraft” for crossing obstacles

From CNN's Victoria Butneko

The Ukrainian Armed Forces said they are “equipped with all the necessary watercraft" for "crossing water obstacles" after the collapse of a major dam and hydro-electric power plant caused flooding in parts of the Kherson region in southern Ukraine.

In a statement, the military reiterated that it believes Russian forces were responsible for the damage to the Nova Kakhovka dam which spans the Dnipro River.

Kyiv and Moscow have blamed each other for the incident early Tuesday, which sparked evacuations from nearby areas as dramatic scenes emerged of water gushing from a huge rupture in the dam.