Ukraine: Volunteers search for survivors in flooded town
While the exact cause of the Kakhovka Dam explosion is unclear, and both sides continue to blame each other for the act of terrorism, Ukraine has accused Russia’s UN envoy of floundering in a “mud of lies”.
At the emergency session of the security council, Sergiy Kyslytsya, Ukraine’s envoy to the UN, said it was typical of Russia to blame the victim for its own crimes. He pointed out that Russia had been in control of the dam for more than a year, and that it was physically impossible to destroy it through shelling.
He claimed that the dam was mined by the Russian occupiers who then blew it up, saying: “By resorting to scorched earth tactics, or in this case to flooded earth tactics, the Russian occupiers have effectively recognised that the captured territory does not belong to them, and they are not able to hold these lands.”
If Russia is found guilty of having ordered the dam’s destruction, it wouldn’t be the first time the country has engaged in crimes against humanity.
Russian history is littered with various heinous acts. Here, Express.co.uk takes a look at some of the worst in recent decades.
Dnieper dam, 1941
On August 28, 1941, Stalin ordered the destruction of the Dnieper dam — the ‘Lenin dam’ — which fed the Dneprostroi power plant, in order to stop the charge of Nazi Germany
The Soviets were desperate to stop the offensive of the Nazis and hoped to starve them of any heavy industry they might capture.
Solomon Lozovsky, a Soviet spokesman, at the time, told reporters: “We blew up the Dnieper dam so as not to allow this first child of the Soviet five-year Plan to fall into the hands of Hitler’s bandits. All measures were taken so as not to permit the Germans to make use of the dam and machinery.”
Stalin’s secret police carried out the act, in doing so killing anywhere between 20,000 and 100,000 people in the ensuing floods.
Many historians today say that the dam didn’t need to be blown up and that the two men in charge of the operation, Boris Epov and Aleksandr Petrovsky, rushed their decision because they were scared of Stalin.
On April 26, 1986, reactor No 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant in the northern Ukrainian USSR in the Soviet Union failed, causing the world’s worst-ever civil nuclear incident.
Radiation spilt into nearby towns and cities, but no one was immediately informed or evacuated. In Pripyat, a city extremely close to the power plant, people went about their business as usual but within a few hours of the explosion, dozens of people fell ill, reporting severe headaches, metallic tastes in their mouths, and uncontrollable coughing fits and vomiting.
Authorities in Moscow, who ran the plant, did not tell the Ukrainian government about the disaster straight away.
A major cover-up ensued, all while radioactive dust travelled across the country and Europe. A radioactive cloud travelled as far as the UK, the worst affected areas Wales, Scotland, and some Northern English towns like Cumbria.
It was later found that safety negligence and employing workers ill-prepared to look after the facilities led to the accident — things that were overseen by the Soviet government in Russia.
The official death toll from the Chernobyl disaster was 31. However, estimates put the true figure in the hundreds of thousands.
Many of those who helped in the clean-up, around 125,000 people, had died by 2005.
Countless children born in the locality after the incident had physical defects and disabilities. Many were left in orphanages.
The UN predicts that thousands more could still die as a result of the radiation which spilt out almost 40 years ago.
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Child abductions, 2022-2023
On March 22, 2022, barely a month into Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, authorities in the country claimed that Vladimir Putin had ordered the mass kidnapping of children from Donetsk and Luhansk, both occupied territories.
Since then, according to the Ukrainian government, 16,226 children have been deported to Russia, 10,513 of whom have been located, and 308 returned.
The children and their parents are told they are being taken to summer camps before being sent to mainland Russia, where the children attend “re-education camps” and are exposed to a Russia-centric curriculum.
A report published earlier this year by the Yale School of Public Health said children as young as four months had been taken to 43 camps across Russia, including in Moscow-annexed Crimea and Siberia, for “pro-Russia patriotic and military-related education”.
While many of the children return home, in some of the camps, their departure dates were delayed by weeks. Some parents made the gruelling journey, full of detours through EU countries, to retrieve their children.
UN investigators have declared the forced deportation of the children as a war crime.
Bucha massacre, 2022
Perhaps the worst episode in the Ukraine war yet, the Bucha massacre happened in March 2022 where hundreds of Ukrainians were massacred in the city just north of Kyiv.
Civilians and prisoners of war, women, and children were murdered by Russian Armed Forces personnel and mercenaries from private military companies (PMC).
The first evidence of the massacre emerged on April 1, 2022, after Russian forces withdrew from the city.
Ukrainian soldiers found dead bodies laying in the streets and in shallow graves, as well as evidence of torture chambers in basements.
According to Kyiv, 458 people were killed. Many of the women and girls were found to have been raped, with survivors also reporting instances of rape and torture. Russian President Vladimir Putin denied the massacre, claiming it was a “staged performance” by Ukraine.
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