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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

"Putin Has Lost The Power" - ​The Zelensky Die Welt Interview

In an exclusive interview with German daily Die Welt, Volodymyr Zelensky comments on the power struggles inside the Russian government. At the same time, he accuses Russia of firing on rescue workers after the dam explosion, and offers harsh criticism for the UN and the Red Cross.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky makes no mystery about what he believes is happening in Russia's government. "Putin has lost the power he used to have," Zelensky said in an interview with German daily Die Welt. "I think they're having a big internal scandal."

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In addition to the war on the battlefield, there is a "very serious" political battle "between different armies, both state and private," Zelensky said, referring to the relationship between the regular Russian army and mercenary armies, including the Wagner Group.

"I think Putin understands this is going on. I think he understands he has a problem," Zelensky said. "There are there, and I am happy about it." Further, the Ukrainian president said, "When does something like this happen? When people feel something. Feel that the situation is changing. I think that his business partners have lost faith in him. This affects the military and many other aspects. Putin has lost the power he used to have."

A call to the UN

During the interview in Kyiv, Zelensky accused Russia of obstructing rescue operations after the explosion of the Nova Kakhovka dam. "It is very difficult to get people out of the occupied area. When our forces try to get them out, they are shot at by occupiers from a distance," he said.

He also described the suffering of the local population. "People and animals have died. From the roofs of flooded houses, people see drowned people floating by." The full consequences likely won't be known until a few days from now, when the waters have receded slightly, he said.

Nothing that Russia does surprises us anymore. Torture, rape: it has all happened.

Zelensky also severely criticized the United Nations and the International Red Cross. "They are not there," he said, even though the UN and the Red Cross should be "the forces who have to be there to save people’s lives," he said.

At the same time, Zelensky said he was not surprised by the attack on the dam: "Nothing that Russia does surprises us anymore. Torture, rape: it has all happened. This is their way of waging war." The Ukrainian President gave Ukraine's counteroffensive as Russia's motive. "They understand very well that they will lose this battle. They are dragging out the liberation of our territories."

Zelensky admitted that the destruction of the dam will affect Ukraine's counteroffensive. "What is happening right now is a tragedy. An environmental disaster and a human disaster," Zelensky said. "It doesn't help us with the counteroffensive, and it doesn't make it any easier." He said it is still difficult to understand the full impact of the explosion. He did not go into detail on the counteroffensive.

A family rescued by boat from the floods following the explosion of a dam in Ukraine.

Rescue efforts underway in Ukraine's flood-hit Kherson region on June 7.

Cover Images/ZUMA

Seeking support: Zelensky's response

Zelensky said that he did not share the view of German Chancellor Olaf Scholz that the destruction of the dam represented a "new dimension of war." At the same time, he welcomed the German leader's current stance on Ukraine. He is pleased that Scholz also "sees the situation through our eyes," adding, "I feel the support. I think he has found his way." Scholz has found the answers to certain questions. "Russia is helping all of us find those answers," Zelensky added.

Meanwhile, Zelensky called on Scholz to provide further assistance. "We need his support in the coalition of fighter jets and Patriot systems," Zelensky said. As long as there are no jets, he said, Ukraine is forced to protect its skies with the Patriot air defense system.

No plans to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines.

If Ukraine were to receive not only F-16 jets but also other fighter jet models, including the Eurofighter, the situation would be more difficult because of the large number of systems. But "if things go faster," it would also be necessary to work with different models "in order to save lives." So far, Germany, which does not own an F-16 aircraft itself, has yet to join the fighter jet coalition.

In the interview, Zelensky dismissed recent reports by U.S. media that Ukraine had plans to destroy the Nord Stream pipelines. "I am the president, and I give appropriate orders. Ukraine has done nothing of the sort. I would never act like that," Zelensky said. "I did not know anything. One hundred percent." He also denied that Ukraine was involved in recent attacks seen on Russian territory.

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This Is How The Kakhovka Dam Attack Will Change The War

The destruction of the hydroelectric dam has caused massive flooding and is forcing mass evacuations. And while the disaster is threatening local populations, it is also bound to alter the course of the war — in more ways than one.


The destruction of the Kakhovka dam is among the worst man-made disasters ever seen in the southern Ukrainian region of Kherson, which had already seen devastating fighting during the Russian invasion. But it also comes as Ukrainian troops begin their much anticipated push into Russian-occupied territory — indeed, it was likely timed with that in mind.

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So how will the destroyed infrastructure, widespread flooding and humanitarian catastrophe along the Dnipro River affect the counteroffensive?

In the areas flooded by the bursting dam, the situation is developing rapidly — and the consequences have already surpassed the worst forecasts of both Ukrainian and international experts.

The affected area includes territories on both banks of the Dnipro River, from the town of Nova Kakhovka, where the dam and hydroelectric power plant were located, to the outflow of the river into the Black Sea near the Kingsburg Spit, which rising water levels have turned into an island.

Changing the area's landscape, urgent evacuation of people, and the actual transfer of the front line in this region will inevitably affect the course of the war, especially given Ukraine's offensive to liberate the southern territories. From experts and information on the ground, here's a forecast of five ways the dam's destruction will change the war:

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Kherson, Where War Survivors Must Now Escape The Flood

The evacuation of residents from flood-affected localities continues after the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam. Evacuees report that they have been bombarded by Russian missiles and fear the presence of mines in the water.

KHERSON — “Finally, dry land...” The words were repeated by multiple evacuees forced to leave their homes over the past 48 hours in the wake of the explosion that destroyed the Nova Kakhovka dam.

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For the residents of Kherson and the surrounding area, the past 15 months have included a Russian occupation, Ukrainian liberation, and frequent artillery shelling. But on Tuesday, they woke up to a different kind of test of their survival skills.

The major breach of the dam flooded the settlements near the Dnipro river, forcing thousands to evacuate. The floodwaters have even submerged the low-lying districts of Kherson, the major city in the area, where levels have been known in the past to rise to the second or third floors of apartment buildings.

But now, the flooding is bound to be both more severe, and more widespread. In certain areas, the only mean of transport is by boat.

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Why Western F-16s Are Key To Ukraine's Counteroffensive

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has just announced a major shipment of F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. Here's how they will be used in the coming counteroffensive.


KYIV — After the U.S. announced it will help train Ukrainians on F-16 fighter jets in late May, Yuriy Ignat, spokesman for the Ukrainian air force command, confidently declared: "Once we have the F-16s, we'll win this war."

Military experts argue that it may not be as simple as that, but for military pilot instructor and Ukrainian reserve colonel, Roman Svitan, the Western fighters could help cut Ukrainian casualties and even shift the balance in Ukraine's favor during the counteroffensive.

Ukraine is gearing up to expel the Russian forces that have invaded its territory. While the specifics of the counteroffensive are shrouded in secrecy, and experts continue to debate the likelihood of its success, it appears that the long-term objective is reclaiming all the territories currently occupied by Russia, including Crimea and the Donbas region.

Speaking to the independent Russian news site Important Stories, Roman Svitan explains how the F-16s could help Ukraine achieve this objective.

For starters, Ukraine can reach the Azov coast in the southeast under the protection of surface-to-air missile systems and sufficient artillery cover, Svitan explains.

“The ground is as flat as a table," he notes, "so it's easy to pull equipment like artillery there."

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

Putin's Hidden Message In Dam Explosion: If Cornered, I Will Stop At Nothing

The Nova Kakhovka dam explosion was undoubtedly carried out by Putin, putting both Ukrainian and Russian lives at risk. The explosion makes clear that there are no limits to how far Putin will go. That has been his message since Day One of the war.


Southern Ukraine is still reeling from the explosion at the Nova Kakhovka dam on the Dnipro River. The surrounding Kherson region, where Ukraine retook several key towns and cities last November, is flooding as water levels on both banks of the river rose by 10 meters, forcing thousands of Ukrainians to evacuate.

The catastrophe may lead to the shutting down of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the nuclear reactors of which are cooled by water from the Dnipro.

With enormous consequences on a human, environmental and strategic levels, Kyiv and Moscow are blaming each other for the explosion. But it is simply unfathomable that Ukraine could be responsible for the attack — both, because it wouldn't make sense for Ukraine to attack its own people — and because the disaster is a major impediment from Kyiv's much-anticipated military counteroffensive.

Yes, the bombing of the dam was ordered by Russian President Vladimir Putin to try to slow down his coming military losses. But there is another, deeper explanation for this attack at this moment in time: it's a clear message to the world that there are no limits to Putin’s aggression. Especially when his back is against the wall.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Pierre Haski

How The Dam Destruction Will Impact Ukraine's Counteroffensive — And What That Tells Us

When both sides of a conflict blame each other for something as important as the destruction of the Nova Kakhovka dam, there's only one way to understand what's going on: find out who benefits from the crime.


PARIS — Moscow and Kyiv continue to blame each other for blowing up the Nova Kakhovka dam in Russian-controlled Ukrainian territory. The dam's destruction is flooding the region around Kherson, the main town retaken by the Ukrainians last November.

It's a humanitarian and ecological disaster, and a major offense. It's worth pointing out that the Geneva Conventions formally prohibit attacks on dams, dikes or nuclear power plants, so this may constitute a war crime.

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The immediate consequence of this sabotage is that it could hamper a possible Ukrainian counteroffensive in this strategic region. If the Ukrainians had considered launching their long-awaited and much-trumpeted assault in the Kherson region, this is now doubtful.

The flooding and state of the soil over the next few weeks makes the passage of armored vehicles and troops no longer possible.

This could force Ukrainian forces to divert some of their resources to deal with the humanitarian emergency, and to review their attack plans. From this point of view, it's a setback for Kyiv.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War

Did Putin Tip Off Dam Attack With A Veiled Nuclear Threat Last Week?

After significant sections of the Nova Kakhovka dam were destroyed in a Russian-controlled part of southern Ukraine, independent Russian media Agents.Media has pieced together Vladimir Putin declarations on May 30 that may have been a warning of a false-flag attack.

The torrent of water unleashed after the attack of the Nova Kakhovka dam has flooded several nearby villages and sparked widespread evacuations. But it has also prompted fears for the security of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which depends on water from the river for cooling.

The proximity to the plant is, however, not the only link to a possible nuclear risk. After the breach of the dam, the Russian secret service FSB claimed to have thwarted a planned dirty bomb attack on Russian soil. The FSB claim comes exactly a week after Russian President Vladimir Putin raised the specter of a dirty bomb attack and threats to the Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which is just upstream from the Nova Kakhovka dam.

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Commentators have interpreted Putin’s statements as a veiled threat directed towards Ukraine, and the latest allusion to a possible Russian "false flag" operation that is used as a pretext for a major attack in response.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Emma Albright

Nova Kakhovka Attack — Dams Are A Favorite Target Of War

Stunning images of the attack of Nova Kakhovka dam, which had been described as a strategically important target, serve as a reminder that military forces in past wars have set off similar disasters to take out dams' power.

A major dam and hydro-electric power plant in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine was destroyed on Tuesday, prompting fear and mass evacuations as Ukraine accused Russian forces of committing an act of “ecocide.”

Videos posted to social media showed the destroyed dam and torrents of water flowing out into the river and flooding populated areas downstream, where people were forced to evacuate.

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As stunning as the images are, the attack of Nova Kakhovka is not a complete surprise. The dam had been described as a strategically important target since the beginning of the war, and the Ukrainian government warned in 2022 that destroying it would cause a "large-scale disaster."

Indeed, the attack is just the most recent example of military forces seeing the massive potential energy stored behind hydroelectric dams as an offensive weapon. Destroying these critical pieces of infrastructure can destroy cities and spread terror, as well as disrupt agriculture and industry, and cripple power generation.

Here are some of the most notable wartime dam attacks in history:

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Anna Akage

The Dam Attack Adds To Ukraine's Huge Environmental Toll, Already Estimated At $54 Billion

The blowing up of the Nova Kakhovka dam has unleashed massive flooding in southern Ukraine. The damage is sure to be staggering, which will add to the huge toll the government estimated in March that takes into account land, air, and water pollution, burned-down forests, and destroyed natural resources.

-This article was updated on June 6, 2023 at 2 p.m. local time-

The blowing up of a large Soviet-era dam on the Dnipro river, which has sparked massive flooding, may turn out to be the most environmentally damaging of the Ukraine war.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has blamed Russia for the attack on the Nova Kakhovka dam, calling it "ecocide," with the flooding already estimated to affect over 16,000 people in surrounding villages, many of whom have been told to evacuate immediately. So far, eight villages have been flooded completely by water from the dam's reservoirs.

Moscow, meanwhile, says Kyiv is behind the blast in occupied areas of Ukraine. But even before knowing who is to blame, environmental experts note that is just the latest ecological casualty in the 15-month-long conflict.

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In March, for the first time, there was an estimate of the cost of the environmental damage of the war on Ukraine: $54 billion.

Ruslan Strilets, Ukraine’s Minister of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, explained that experts have applied a new methodology based on environmental inspection to tally the cost.

“This includes land, air, and water pollution, burned-down forests, and destroyed natural resources,” he said. “Our main goal is to show these figures to everyone so that they can be seen in Europe and the world so that everyone understands the price of this environmental damage and how to restore it to Ukraine.”

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Mykhailo Kriegel

Blue-Yellow Visions, Bioweapon Warnings: The Face Of Russian Paranoia

Today's Russia is similar to Stalin's USSR in more and more ways, including the constant search for enemies and the paranoia of betrayal. Some examples of this panic may be funny, but also help inform what Moscow might do next.

Some compare the regime of Vladimir Putin to the regime of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Sometimes the comparison holds, sometimes it doesn't. But one thing they share is a sense of social panic — and paranoia.

The nature of panic and paranoia often makes it ripe for jokes, though in the end there is little to laugh at in a totalitarian regime. We have gathered some recent signs of the paranoid state of Russian society.

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Take Olga Z., a resident of the Moscow neighborhood, who was taking the metro when a neighbor caught her eye. He wore a yellow jacket with a blue sweatshirt peeking out from underneath. She was also concerned that a man who was a lookalike of Ukrainian nationalist Dmytro Yarosh was sitting beside the suspicious citizen in yellow and blue. She immediately informed the police.

Then there's Svetlana Sharkova, a 60-year-old retiree from the village of Lashino near Moscow, who complained to the police that a local plant nursery was selling seedlings of the Ukrainian apple variety "Glory to the Victors."

Police in the central Russian city of Pyt-Yakh, are investigating a report from the local school principal that a student wore blue and yellow ribbons in her hair.

On a bus traveling from Dzhankoy to Sevastopol in Crimea, a retiree reported to police that he saw a passenger with a tattoo on his leg of Stepan Bandera, the noted World War II-era Ukrainian political lead. The tattoo turned out to be Irish actor Cillian Murphy in the role of Thomas Shelby, a character in the gangster series Peaky Blinders.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Vazhnyye Istorii

A First Look At Russia's Ukraine War Veterans, Struggling Back On The Homefront

Hundreds of thousands of Russians have taken part in the war. On returning, many face difficulties to return to normal life and finding work, as independent Russian news outlet Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories reports.

MOSCOW — Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, hundreds of thousands of Russians have taken part in the war. They range from professional soldiers, National Guardsmen, reservists and conscripts to mercenaries of illegal armed groups, including former prisoners.

The exact number of those who survived and returned home is unknown. In the past year alone, about 50,000 citizens received the status “combat veteran”. The actual number of returnees from the front is far higher, but it is often extremely difficult to obtain veteran status and veteran benefits.

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FOCUS: Russia-Ukraine War
Katya Bonch-Osmolovskaya

They Tracked Down Ukraine's Missing Children In Russia, But Can't Get Them Home

An investigation by Russian independent news outlet Vazhnyye IstoriiImportant Stories found nearly 2,500 orphaned children who may have been forcibly deported from Ukraine and are being raised as Russians. There is no mechanism set up for their return.

MOSCOW — Russia has a state database on orphans and children left without parental care, which publishes profiles of children available for adoption. Russian independent news outlet Vazhnyye Istorii/Important Stories found that children deported from Ukraine appeared in the database.

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The number of Ukrainian children openly sought for foster care by Russian authorities may be almost 2,500. The system does not facilitate searching for Ukrainian relatives of these children, nor does Russia provide the children with an opportunity to remain in Ukraine.

"Brushes, paints, an album — everything you need. I like it very much," says the boy as he examines the school kit donated by the volunteers. He has a cap on his head with "Together with Russia" written on it. He is 9-year-old Alexander Chizhkov, referred to in the TV report as a "forced migrant." Russian authorities removed him along with other orphaned children from Donetsk.

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