Russians significantly damaged Ukraine’s largest dam, the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant, in mass missile attack (updated)

Дата: 23 March 2024
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On March 22, 2024, Russia conducted a mass attack against Ukraine with 151 aerial weapons in total, leaving a million people without power across Ukraine. The Ukrainian defense forces were able to down 92: 55 Shahed-136/131 UAVs and 37 missiles. Ukraine lost about 20% of its power grid regulation capability after the attack on the Dnipro Hydroelectric Power Plant (Dnipro HPP).

Russians launched 12 missile strikes on Zaporizhzhya. Over 40 households were damaged and destroyed. At least five people were killed and over 25 injured.

Among the targets was Ukraine’s largest dam – the DniproHES in Zaporizhzhia. Russians hit it eight times, according to Ukrainian officials. Video footage appeared to show the dam on fire. However, Ukrhydroenergo, Ukraine’s hydropower operator, stated that were was no threat of a dam breach. Engineers have managed to restart some of the plant’s equipment.

The company plans to provide the world community with comprehensive information on the extent of the damage through a live broadcast.

According to Ukraine’s Environmental Service, oil products are leaking into the Dnipro River.

Officials also say that a trolleybus which was crossing the dam at the time caught fire after a missile strike, killing the driver.

“At 04:30 all hell broke loose. Terrible fireworks and explosions. At one point, our house tilted,” Valentyna, an eyewitness whose house overlooks the dam told the BBC.

Additionally, several mines in Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk oblasts lost power after a Russian attack, leaving 1,060 miners trapped underground, the Energy Ministry reported, adding that there was no threat to their lives.

The UN’s nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, said the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power plant lost its connection to the power grid for almost five hours on Friday following the Russian attacks.

This highlighted the “ever-present dangers to nuclear safety and security during the conflict”, it said.

The plant, however, continued to receive external electricity for reactor cooling from its only remaining backup power line.

Ukraine’s energy minister, Herman Galushchenko, accused Russia of trying to provoke “a large-scale failure of the country’s energy system”.

Meanwhile, officials in the nearby Sumy region said that more than 300 people had been forced to flee since last week because of intensified shelling and Russian air strikes, and more were being evacuated.

Russia’s defence ministry said the assault on Ukraine’s power grid was part of a series of revenge attacks against Kyiv for its earlier incursions into Russian territory. Ukrainian authorities deny that its forces crossed the border with the aggressor state, stating it is Russian citizens in the Russian Volunteer Corps (RDK) and the Siberian Battalion combatting Vladimir Putin’s regime. 

President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy has repeated his calls for further military aid over recent days, specifically calling on the West to send Ukraine more air defence systems. 

Speaking to leaders of EU member states via video link on Thursday, he said the amount of artillery shells available to Ukrainian soldiers was “humiliating for Europe.”

“Russian access to the European agricultural market is still unrestricted,” he added.

According to Zelenskyy in his evening speech on March 24, 2024, last week, Russia used nearly 190 missiles, 140 Shahed drones and 700 guided bomb units against Ukraine.

Due to another combined attack of the Russian Armed Forces, the coalition of human rights organizations “Ukraine. 5 a.m.” appealed to partner countries to intensify their actions for providing air defense systems to protect civilians and objects that are under the protection of international humanitarian law.

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