Ukraine’s water supply at risk as Putin plans to ‘flood our cities’ as soon as this week | World | News

While Ukraine’s annual Independence Day celebrations are intended as a joyous occasion marking the nation’s declaration of independence in 1991, this year saw the nation’s biggest state holiday met with terror and bloodshed. An estimated 22 people were killed ‒ including children ‒ and dozens more injured after a Russian rocket strike hit a town and set a passenger train on fire.

As Russia’s unprovoked war in the region heads into its seventh month, concerns are now growing about what infrastructure might be at risk.

On Thursday morning, the UK Ministry of Defence released an image analysis showing Russian-owned armoured trucks outside the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.

And in a recent interview with the Globalist Podcast, Mrs Yushchenko ‒ wife of former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko ‒ said there was growing concern over Ukraine’s water security.

Speaking on August 24 ahead of the Independence Day attack, she said: “We believe that the Russians may try to attack the bridges over our rivers, the dams that could flood our cities, and so there is a great threat and we believe that, if it happens, it could happen this Thursday or Friday.”

The destruction of water-related infrastructure would have enormous repercussions for Ukraine.

The population already suffered from a lacking water supply prior to the war, with only 1,000 cubic meters of water available to the average Ukrainian annually, 500 cubic meters below the UN European Economic Commission’s recommendation.

The city of Mykolaiv ‒ which retained a status of wetland importance due to the mix of salt and freshwater around the region, making it a uniquely prosperous area for agriculture ‒ has already had its water supply destroyed by Russian shelling.

Speaking to the Village Voice, Oleg Derkach a well-known Ukrainian biologist and ecologist from the region, said: “They are consistently destroying the infrastructure of Mykolaiv.

“I think the fact that the city was left without water only on the 50th day of the war suggests that the Russians had planned to occupy the city and did not want to create problems for themselves. The main water supply system was not blown up.

“When the hopes of capturing Mykolaiv began to fade, the shelling became more intense.

“Russian troops began to destroy residential areas and port infrastructure. And then the water supply was destroyed.”

Whether Russia chooses to attack the water infrastructure in Ukraine may, then, depend on the future value Russia perceives the region could offer.

And, if Mrs Yumashchenko’s prediction surrounding the destruction of the bridges manifests, experts believe it could be indicative of a harshening of Russian tactics, signifying Putin’s attempts to bully Ukrainians into surrender, regardless of the future consequences for Russia itself.

Despite this, according to Mrs Yumashchenko, the atmosphere in Ukraine remained “resolute” on their day of independence.

She said:“The atmosphere in Ukraine is very determined, angry, but determined. 90 percent of Ukrainians continue to believe in our victory.

“The army continues to fight and the civil society continues to support our army and it continues to support all the people who have suffered and are under danger, so I would say that the general atmosphere is very determined and everyone is resolute.”

She added: “We are celebrating a very, very important holiday for us, because, even though it’s a time of war, its also a renewal of our independence, something we have fought for centuries for. So, its a day of joy and a day of fear as well.”

However, as the war rumbles on and Putin’s strategy of infrastructure control and demolition continues, the more laborious Ukraine’s recovery effort will become, regardless of the outcome of the war.

Mrs Yushchenko also took aim at a lack of Western funding to Ukraine’s military to this effect.

She said: “I think that with the help of the military support that we have been getting from abroad we have been able to knock down about 70 percent of the missiles that have been hitting our country, we have protected ourselves from invasions at the borders but of course we are still undermilitiarised for what we need, we still are not getting the weapons that we need, it seems like the West is giving us just enough to keep fighting but not enough to win, not enough to strike at the actual ammunition depots that are a little bit more into Russia that could actually protect us and help us to win.”

Ukraine’s Prime Minister said the economic cost of recovery “is already estimated at $750billion (£635billion)” at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in Switzerland.

Russia’s move toward a strategy of infrastructure annihilation will enlarge these costs immensely, whilst lengthening an already exhausting tragedy.

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