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European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations
Statement6 June 2023Directorate-General for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO)1 min read

Ukraine: Statement by High Representative Borrell and Commissioner Lenarčič on the destruction of the Kakhovka dam

Press conference by Josep Borrell Fontelles, Vice-President of the European Commission, and Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner, on the new outlook for the EU’s humanitarian action in light of COVID-19

High Representative/Vice President, Josep Borrell, and Commissioner for Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, have issued the following statement:

"Russia’s attacks against Ukrainian civilian critical infrastructure reached an unprecedented level today with the destruction of the dam at Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant. The European Union condemns this attack in the strongest possible terms. It represents a new dimension of Russian atrocities and may constitute a violation of international law, notably international humanitarian law.

The downstream flooding is putting at risk the lives of hundreds of thousands of civilians in around 80 settlements, including the city of Kherson. It aggravates the already dire humanitarian situation in those areas.

Dropping water levels of the dam also affect access to critical cooling water for the reactors of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant. With this desperate act, Russia is also continuing its reckless nuclear gamble by putting at risk the proper functioning of the safety and security systems of the ZNPP in clear violation of earlier related resolutions of the IAEA Board of Governors and the General Conference, as well as the five principles to ensure nuclear safety and security in the ZNPP by the Director General of the IAEA. It is irresponsible and completely unacceptable.

We remain in touch with Ukrainian authorities to ensure the EU’s immediate assistance. The Emergency Response Coordination Centre of the European Commission (ERCC) is actively monitoring the situation and in close contact with the State Emergency Service of Ukraine. Ukraine can request assistance under the EU Civil Protection Mechanism (UCPM). We stand ready to address any immediate needs, including food and drinking water.

We recall that attacks on critical civilian infrastructure may amount to war crimes. We stress our determination to ensure that all commanders, perpetrators and accomplices of war crimes or other most serious crimes will be held accountable in line with international law.

We reiterate our support to President Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula, which also includes accountability for war crimes, nuclear safety, energy security, food security and protection of the environment, and call upon our global partners to support the Peace Formula. The European Union remains unwavering in its support to Ukraine for as long as it takes."