Foreign affairs minister João Gomes Cravinho

Ukraine dam destruction ‘clear humanitarian law violation’ – minister

Foreign affairs minister adds Portugal’s condemnation to latest atrocity 

Portugal’s minister of foreign affairs, João Gomes Cravinho, has reacted to the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in southern Ukraine, denouncing it as a “clear violation of international humanitarian law.”

In a brief note from his office on social network Twitter, the minister said: “We condemn this environmental crime and the destruction of civilian infrastructures, which are a clear violation of international humanitarian law. Russia’s brutal actions against Ukraine must cease.”

It has not yet been irrevocably established that Russia was behind the targeted blasts that caused the dam to start pouring over the left bank of the Dnipro river. But as Russia has used tactics like this in the past – and this specific disaster has been ‘in the offing’ since last autumn – it is generally assumed that investigations will establish Russian involvement. Certainly Ukraine has no other explanation.

The big question today as up to 40,000 people are being evacuated due to rising flood levels is ‘what now’? Could this latest atrocity take the conflict to a next level, in terms of military engagement?

With UNICEF on the ground to assess immediate ‘urgent needs’ of local populations; with the integrity of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant at risk (the dam’s waters are crucial to the cooling of its reactors); with an estimated 150 tonnes of motor oil now spilled into the river, Ukraine’s president Zelenskyy has called for an urgent meeting of the United Nations Security Council.

Russian authorities meantime are blaming the Ukrainians for this incident, which specialists warn will have devastating consequences in the short, medium and long term.

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