Ukraine’s security services have released a recording of an intercepted phone call between two Russian men in which one of them appears to admit that Moscow’s forces blew up the Kakhovka hydroelectric station and dam earlier this week in a botched operation.
Russia, through its proxy officials in Kherson, has blamed Ukrainian forces for destroying the dam both without offering any proof or explanation of the rationale as to why it would be any advantage for Kyiv to do so.
The destruction of the dam in southern Ukraine on Tuesday June 6, unleashed mass flooding, forcing thousands of residents to flee and wreaking environmental havoc. Eight people are known to have died.
The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) posted a one-and-a-half-minute audio clip on the evening of June 8 on its Telegram channel of an alleged conversation between two Russian males, who appeared to be discussing the fallout from the disaster.
A transcript of the conversation proves beyond doubt that Russia blew up the dam, the SBU, said earlier on Friday.
The intercept begins with the first man saying:
“News. Yesterday there was a video in the telegram channel – a soldier was standing there, his face covered, in his uniform. And he says there is no flooding, that people are living normally. And behind him there is a window and you can see knee-deep water.”
A second speaker replies: “That’s funny. Is it about the fact that the hydroelectric power plant was destroyed?”
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The conversation continues:
Speaker one: “Yeah. The main problem is that the hydropower plant cools their nuclear reactor.”
Speaker two: “That’s great. They did it to themselves. It’ll blow up and that’s it.”
Speaker one: “Our guys did it. It’s not them, it’s ours.
Speaker two: “Really, it was ours? They said that the Khokhols [derogatory term for Ukrainians] blew it up.”
Speaker one: “They didn’t blow it up. Our sabotage team is there. They wanted to cause fear with this dam. It did not go according to the plan. More than they planned.”
Speaker two: “Yeah, well, naturally. It’s gonna be like Chornobyl, right?”
Speaker one: “[It was] built in the 1950s. It went down fast, it went down.”
The SBU did not offer further details of the conversation, or identified who the speakers were, but said that a criminal investigation had begun into what it called war crimes and “ecocide.”
“The invaders wanted to blackmail Ukraine by blowing up the dam and staged a man-made disaster in the south of our country,” the SBU statement said.
While very few international politicians or commentators are yet prepared to commit to accuse either side in the war of responsibility the US Ambassador to the UN said, after a meeting of the UN Security Council on Tuesday to discuss the explosion, that although they could not yet be certain who was responsible the US and others were investigating but added:
“But, I mean, come on… why would Ukraine do this to its own territory and people, flood its land, force tens of thousands of people to leave their homes – it doesn’t make sense,” he said.
On Friday, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrel said that "everything indicates" Russia was behind the blast.
"The dam was not bombed. It was destroyed by explosives installed in the areas where the turbines are located. This area is under Russian control," Borrell told Spanish public television.
"I wasn't there to find out who did it. But everything seems to indicate that if it took place in an area under Russian control, it is difficult to believe it could have been someone else," he added.
"In any case, the consequences for Ukraine are terrible, from the humanitarian point of view for the displaced people, and from the environmental point of view because the (dam's) destruction will cause an ecological disaster."
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