Volodymyr Zelenskiy has voiced concerns for his home city of Kryvyi Rih after Russian missiles targeted a nearby dam, flooding its streets.
In a fresh video address released early on Thursday, the Ukrainian president said “everything is being done to eliminate the consequences of yet another vile Russian act”, referring to the targeting of a dam in Kryvyi Rih, on the Inhulets River 150km (93 miles) south-west of Dnipro, Ukraine.
City authorities are fighting to contain the damage to its water system after eight cruise missiles hit a water pumping station there in what Zelenskiy has called an attempt to flood the city, the largest in central Ukraine with an estimated pre-war population of 650,000.
Ukrainian legislator Inna Sovsun tweeted: “The water pumping station was destroyed. The river broke through the dam and overflowed its banks. Residential buildings are just a few meters away from the river.”
The strikes had caused “extensive flooding” in areas of the city, after the river rose an estimated 2.5 metres, the Institute for the Study of War said. The Russian attack was probably intended to damage Ukrainian pontoon bridges further downstream as part of efforts to disrupt the Kherson counteroffensive, it said.
Video posted online showed elevated water levels on the Inhulets and flooded city streets, amid calls for the evacuations of residents.
Switching to speak in Russian, Zelenskiy said: “Your missile attacks today, Russian missiles targeting Kryvyi Rih, the dam of the Karachunivske reservoir, the objects that have no military value at all, in fact hitting hundreds of thousands of ordinary civilians, is another reason why Russia will lose … you are weaklings waging a war against civilians; scoundrels who, having fled the battlefield, are trying to do harm from somewhere far away.”
Zelenskiy’s address was released following news the car the president was in was involved in a traffic accident in Kyiv. He was not seriously hurt, spokesperson Serhii Nykyforov said.
Nykyforov did not say when the accident occurred, but said the car Zelenskiy was in collided with a private vehicle in the Ukrainian capital on Wednesday night.
“The president was examined by a doctor, no serious injuries were found,” he said in a Facebook post, adding the accident would be investigated. He did not specify what injuries Zelenskiy might have suffered, if any.
Medics accompanying Zelenskiy gave the driver of the private car emergency aid and put him in an ambulance, Nykyforov said.
Zelenskiy was returning to Kyiv on Wednesday from the Kharkiv region, where he visited troops in the recaptured city of Izium.
In his video address, Zelenskiy also spoke of the destruction found by Ukrainian forces in the Kharkiv region, saying evidence of torture and other abuses strengthened allegations of genocide of Ukrainians, in the wake of similar abuses in Bucha, and the Chernihiv and Sumy regions.
He said almost the entire region of Kharkiv had now been liberated by “an unprecedented movement of our warriors”.
“Ukrainians once again managed to do what many considered impossible,” he said, adding that nearly 400 settlements had been retaken. “The 150,000 Ukrainians who remained in this territory feel again now what an ordinary, safe, normal life is like.”