As Ukraine grapples with the aftermath of the Nova Kakhovka dam breach, shelling in the region has added to the woes of the country. In a recent incident, at least nine people were injured during evacuations in Kherson, as reported by Ukrainian officials. Amidst the ecological disaster, the landmine threat has also increased due to flooding. This article delves into the details of these incidents and provides a comprehensive analysis of the situation in the region.
Kherson Shelling: A Humanitarian Crisis
Nine people were injured in the Kherson region due to Russian shelling while evacuations were ongoing. The attacks occurred shortly after Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky visited the area, which has been severely affected by the flooding caused by the destruction of the Kakhovka dam. Moscow, on the other hand, accused Ukraine of killing two people at an evacuation point in the Russian-controlled side of the Dnipro River.
Shelling at Kherson’s Shipbuilders Square
The shelling in Kherson primarily hit Shipbuilders Square, a major evacuation point in the city. This location had been one of two places where volunteers were using boats to rescue people and animals from the flooded parts of the city. The incident has raised concerns for the safety of both civilians and rescue workers in the area.
Landmine Threat Increases Due to Flooding
The flooding caused by the collapse of the Nova Kakhovka dam has resulted in the displacement of landmines in the region, according to the head of the Red Cross Weapons Contamination Program. Landmines in the water, on the surface, and buried under the ground have shifted locations, rendering the marking and mapping systems used by charities and NGOs ineffective.
The HALO Trust’s Ukraine Demining Program
The HALO Trust, a prominent organization working on demining efforts in Ukraine, has reported that they will have to relocate and remap landmines in the area affected by the dam collapse. Mike Newton, the head of the program, has described the situation as a “humanitarian catastrophe” and an “ecological disaster.” The moving water has been powerful enough to pick up and move anti-vehicle mines weighing up to 10 kilograms.
Remapping and Clearing Buried Mines
Due to the soil being picked up by moving water and sometimes burying landmines, teams have to be sent to remap and clear the buried mines. This poses a significant risk to the population in areas that previously had no weapon contamination. The Red Cross has expressed its concern for the safety of Ukrainians who may have already lost loved ones and access to basic necessities such as drinking water, food, and medicine.
Wagner Mercenary Group and Putin: A Tense Relationship
The tensions between Vladimir Putin and the Wagner Group, a private military company, have been escalating over time. Senior officers within the group have used high-profile military events, including the dam blast, to criticize Russian defense forces. The success of the Wagner Group has led to friction between the mercenaries and the regular Russian army.
Yevgeny Prigozhin: A Threat to Putin’s Influence
Yevgeny Prigozhin, the leader of the Wagner Group, has described his mercenaries as the “best army in the world.” His success in areas where the Russian army has failed has made him a threat to Putin’s influence. As a result, Putin has begun employing other military groups, such as the Chechen army, to starve Prigozhin of employment, money, and influence.
Wagner’s Future Role in Ukraine
While the Wagner Group is currently not Putin’s favored mercenary group, it is essential to note that the group may still have a role to play in future conflicts. The group may need to rest and recuperate after the extended Bakhmut battle, but it is likely that they will be back in action, possibly in Bakhmut if Ukraine is successful at encircling the city.
International Response and Aid to Ukraine
World leaders have been stepping up to provide aid to Ukraine in the wake of the dam destruction and the ongoing conflict. France, under President Emmanuel Macron, has pledged to send aid to Ukraine within hours, while Turkish President Recept Tayyip Erdogan has proposed creating an international commission to investigate the dam’s destruction.
World Bank’s Rapid Assessment of Damage
The World Bank has committed to supporting Ukraine by conducting a rapid assessment of the damage and needs resulting from the dam’s destruction. The assessment will build on the bank’s previous analysis of damage to Ukraine’s infrastructure and buildings, which estimated a cost of $411 billion to rebuild the country’s economy after Russia’s invasion.
The Road to Recovery
As Ukraine faces the dual challenges of ecological disaster and ongoing conflict, the international community must come together to provide assistance and support. The threats posed by landmines, shelling, and the Wagner Group’s uncertain future highlight the complexities of the situation.
Rebuilding a country on mine foundations is an arduous task, but with concerted efforts from the Ukrainian government, international organizations, and the global community, a path toward recovery and reconstruction can be forged.