Ukraine updates: Kakhovka dam blast threatens water supply
While the flood from the Kahkovka dam blast has decimated towns, the lower reservoir level has also impacted supplies of drinking water. Meanwhile, in Russia, a US citizen has been detained
The destruction of the Kakhovka dam is a fast-moving disaster that is evolving into a long-term environmental catastrophe affecting drinking water, food supplies and ecosystems reaching into the Black Sea, observers have said.
On Sunday, the British Defense Ministry said the incident has "almost certainly severely disrupted the occupied Crimean Peninsula's primary source of fresh water" because the water level in the dam's reservoir had likely fallen below the level of the inlet that feeds the canal.
British authorities said, "water will soon stop flowing to Crimea."
"However, the Russian authorities will likely meet the immediate water requirements of the population using reservoirs, water rationing, drilling new wells, and delivering bottled water from Russia," the ministry added.
The impact also continues to be felt in Ukrainian-held territory, with major flooding displacing entire communities, destroying homes, and creating a severe health emergency.
"Concurrently, communities on both the Russian and Ukrainian-controlled sides of the flooded Dnipro are facing a sanitation crisis with limited access to safe water, and an increased risk of water-borne diseases," the ministry said in an intelligence update on the war in Ukraine.
The long-term environmental impact is still being determined for downstream ecosystems that were completely inundated by the flood waters.
Ukraine's Agriculture Ministry estimates that 10,000 hectares (24,000 acres) of farmland in the parts of Kherson province held by Kyiv, and "many times more than that" in territory occupied by Russia.
"The worst consequences will probably not affect us directly, not me, not you, but rather our future generations, because this man-made disaster is not transparent," Kateryna Filiuta, an expert in protected habitats for the Ukraine Nature Conservation Group, told the Associated Press.
"The consequences to come will be for our children or grandchildren, just as we are the ones now experiencing the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster, not our ancestors."
Here are some of the other developments concerning Russia's war in Ukraine on Sunday, June 11:
Ukraine says Russians killed three on lifeboat carrying flood victims
Russian troops fired on a lifeboat evacuating civilians in the flood-hit Kherson region of Ukraine, killing three people and injuring 10, Ukrainian authorities charged.
"Russians are cowardly terrorists," said Andriy Yermak, the head of the Ukrainian president's office, on Telegram. "They shot civilians in the back."
Yermak said the wounded had made it across the Dnipro river to the city of Kherson, which is held by Ukrainian forces. The river separates Ukrainian-controlled parts of the region from southern areas under Russian occupation.
Ukraine's Interior Ministry said that there were 21 people on the boat who were trying to get to safety and published photos of those rescued.
Russia and Ukraine swap nearly 200 prisoners in latest exchange
Ukraine and Russia have each released more than 90 men in a new prisoner exchange, officials said.
The head of the Ukrainian presidential office, Andriy Yermak, said that Ukraine had recovered 95 soldiers who were captured by the Russians in battles for the cities of Bakhmut and Mariupol. "Many of our people were injured in captivity," he said.
The Russian Defense Ministry reported the release of 94 of its own fighters from Ukrainian captivity. The soldiers are to be treated in the ministry's medical facilities and undergo rehabilitation.
Russia and Ukraine have exchanged prisoners several times in the course of the 15-month war. Most recently, there was a major exchange of prisoners at the end of May. In most cases, the warring factions hand over roughly the same number of fighters as the other side.
Ukraine announces retaking two villages in southeast
Ukrainian forces said they have recaptured a village in the southeast of the war-torn country. It's the first reported success since President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Saturday acknowledged that some counteroffensive actions had begun.
Ukraine's ground forces said in a statement that soldiers of the 68th separate ranger brigade had "liberated the settlement of Blahodatne" in the eastern region of Donetsk. The ground forces released a video showing soldiers carrying a Ukrainian flag into a destroyed building.
Another military spokesman, Valeriy Shershen, also said that the village — located on the border of the region of Donetsk and the southern region of Zaporizhzhia, where Moscow has reported heavy Ukrainian assaults over the past week — had been retaken.
Later on Sunday, Ukraine announced its forces had also retaken the nearby village of Neskuchne. "Neskuchne of the Donetsk region is under Ukrainian flag again," the state border guard service said.
Wagner group rejects contracts with Defense Ministry: Prigozhin
Mercenaries from the powerful Wagner Group will not sign contracts with the Defense Ministry despite an order to that effect by Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Wagner founder Yevgeny Prigozhin said on Saturday.
"Wagner will not sign any contracts with Shoigu," said Prigozhin, who has repeatedly insulted and criticized Russia's military leaders over their failings during Moscow's invasion of Ukraine, adding that the group's effectiveness would be harmed by such a move.
The Defense Ministry said on Saturday that Shoigu had ordered all "volunteer detachments" to sign contracts by the end of the month, a step the ministry said would increase the effectiveness of the Russian army.
The ministry did not mention the Wagner group by name, but Russian media have cast the order as an attempt by Shoigu to bring the mercenaries better under control.
Russia awards medals for alleged hits on Western tanks
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu has presented Russia's highest military honor to soldiers claiming to have destroyed tanks and armored vehicles of Ukrainian forces, according to Reuters news agency.
Moscow earlier said its forces had destroyed four German-made Leopard tanks and five US-made Bradley fighting vehicles in combat with Ukrainian troops.
The soldiers themselves did not identify the tanks publicly.
The ministry released footage on Saturday showing drones striking tanks in the Zaporizhzhia region where Kyiv's forces have so far focused their counteroffensive, and has published other images in recent days purporting to show armored vehicles being destroyed by helicopters and drones.
The battlefield claims have so far not been verified.
Drones crash in Russia's Kaluga region
Two drones crashed in Russia's Kaluga region, not far from Moscow, early on Sunday morning, officials said.
One drone reportedly crashed near Strelkovka, and the other in the woods in the Medynsky municipal district.
"According to preliminary information — no casualties," Kaluga Governor Vladislav Shapsha said on Telegram.
American musician arrested in Moscow on drugs suspicion
An American musician has been detained in Moscow on suspicion of drug trafficking, authorities said on Saturday.
"On June 10, 2023, Moscow's Khamovniki District Court took a measure of restraint against a US citizen," Moscow's courts of general jurisdiction said in a statement.
"The former paratrooper and a musician, who is accused of running a drug dealing business involving young people, will remain in custody until August 6, 2023."
The Associated Press identified the man as Michael Travis Leake, who appears to be the lead singer of the rock band Lovi Noch.
Russia's Interfax news agency reported that if found guilty, the man could face up to 12 years in prison.
Russian drug laws are strict and have been heavily enforced against Americans since the invasion of Ukraine. In 2022 WNBA star Brittney Griner was imprisoned for months after vape canisters containing cannabis oil were found in her luggage at a Moscow airport.
The US State Department said that when a citizen is detained overseas, it "pursues consular access as soon as possible and works to provide all appropriate consular assistance," but did not provide further details.
Freight train derails in Belgorod
An empty freight train has derailed in Russia's Belgorod region near the border with Ukraine, the regional governor said late on Saturday.
"According to preliminary information, there are no casualties," Belgorod Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said on Telegram.
In recent weeks, blasts and other attacks have become almost a daily occurrence in the Belgorod region. Russia has blamed such incidents on Ukrainian forces, but Kyiv has pointed to Russian guerrilla groups, two of which have claimed responsibility.
Tennis star rallies support for Ukraine
Polish tennis champion Iga Swiatek has called on her fellow players to make "every effort to make the Russian aggression stop" after winning the French Open on Saturday.
"My support goes to all the Ukrainians, because I know that their situation isn't easy," she said. "Like if I would be in their shoes, I don't know if I would be able to compete, honestly."
As a sign of support, Swiatek always plays with a small Ukraine flag on her cap and has previously raised money for Ukrainian war victims.
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