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Kherson dam: Putin could use ‘devastating’ weapons of mass destruction, senior MP warns

Moscow, Russian Federation. 06th June, 2023. Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Governor of Magadan Region Sergey Nosov (not seen) at the Kremlin, in Moscow, Russia. Photo by Kremlin POOL/ Credit: UPI/Alamy Live News
Vladimir Putin may use weapons of mass destruction in his war with Ukraine, an MP has warned. (Alamy)

Russian President Vladimir Putin could use "devastating" weapons of mass destruction in the war with Ukraine, a senior Tory MP has warned.

Kyiv and Western countries have accused Russian forces of blowing up the Kakhovka dam and hydroelectric power station in the Kherson region – an area Moscow has controlled for more than a year.

Russia has denied damaging the dam, instead trying to shift the blame onto Ukrainian "night attacks" on the region that had "led to the destruction of the valves" at the facility.

It has led to the evacuation of thousands of people in nearby villages and towns, with fears that the collapse of the dam will inhibit water from getting to the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, which the plant uses for cooling.

The escalation has led Tobias Ellwood – the chair of the UK Parliament’s defence select committee – to warn that Vladimir Putin may look to use even more deadly attacks in the ongoing war with Ukraine.

This image made from video provided by Ukraine's Presidential Office shows the damaged Kakhovka dam near Kherson, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. Ukraine on Tuesday accused Russian forces of blowing up a major dam and hydroelectric power station in a part of southern Ukraine that Russia controls, sending water gushing from the breached facility and risking massive flooding. (Ukraine's Presidential Office via AP)
Video from Ukraine's Presidential Office shows the damaged Kakhovka dam near Kherson. (Ukraine's Presidential Office/AP)
NOVA KAKHOVKA DAM, UKRAINE -- MAY 28, 2023:  Maxar satellite imagery BEFORE the damage to the Nova Kakhovka Dam in  Ukraine.  Please use: Satellite image (c) 2023 Maxar Technologies.
Maxar satellite imagery shows the Kakhovka dam before the damage. (Getty/Satellite image (c) 2023 Maxar Technologies)
KHERSON, UKRAINE - JUNE 6: Men walk along a street of the flooded Korabel (Island) micro-district of Kherson on June 6, 2023 in Kherson, Ukraine. The blowing up by Russian occupiers on the night of June 6 of the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant and the flooding of settlements in Kherson Oblast resulted in the population evacuation from dangerous areas. In Kherson, the Korabel (Island) microdistrict, where the water rose by two and a half meters, the river port, the territories of Antonivskyi and Sadivskyi districts are currently flooded. According to forecasts, the water will arrive during the next day as well. (Photo by Valentyna Gurova/Suspilne Ukraine/JSC
Men walk along a flooded street in Kherson following the collapse of the dam. (Getty)

Ellwood told Times Radio: "We’re moving into Russia using, creating, weapons of mass destruction which could have a devastating scale on a humanitarian perspective."

Ellwood said the West should be willing to step in to prevent "a massive, large-scale disaster which could easily bleed out well beyond Ukrainian itself."

Accusing Russia of being behind the attack, Ellwood added: "We cannot be bystanders while watching Putin destroy this critical national infrastructure.

Watch: Russia blows up major dam in Kherson region, says Ukraine

"And I do hope the powers that be, the international community, is looking very carefully at this, because we cannot dismiss Putin’s desire to wreak havoc."

Ukraine has blamed Russia for blowing up the dam and has suggested that Putin may be planning to blow up the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant.

Oleksiy Danilov, the top security official to Ukraine’s president Zelensky, told The Times that "the whole world" should be concerned by how reckless Moscow could be.

London UK. 10 May 2023.  Tobias Ellwood,, conservative Member of Parliament for Bournbmouth East arrives  at Westminster  for PMQ's.Credit: amer ghazzal/Alamy Live News
Tobias Ellwood warned that Russia may use weapons of mass destruction in the war with Ukraine. (Alamy)
FILE - Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is seen from around twenty kilometers away in an area in the Dnipropetrovsk region, Ukraine, Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. A statement released Friday, May 26, 2023, by the intelligence directorate of Ukraine's Defense Ministry claimed that Russian forces would strike the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the biggest in Europe, and then report a radioactive leak in order to trigger an international probe that would pause the hostilities and give the Russian forces the respite they need to regroup ahead of the counteroffensive. (AP Photo/Leo Correa, File)
Ukraine said it is a ‘fact’ that there are explosives at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. (AP)

He said it is a "fact" that there are explosives at the nuclear plant, warning that Putin is "ready to do anything."

However, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said there is "no immediate nuclear safety risk" following the collapse of the dam.

Nevertheless, Tory MP Bob Seely, who has served in the UK Armed Forces, has also warned that Britain "underestimates" the threat of Putin using tactical nuclear weapons – which are smaller than strategic nukes and used for specific targets rather than for mass destruction – in his battle for control of Ukraine.

Seely told GB News earlier this week that Putin "always escalates out of a crisis" – but added that he "probably won’t" use tactical nuclear weapons over fears of losing support from China and India.

Kherson dam attack a ‘war crime’

While Russia insists it is not behind the collapse of the dam, the West has rallied together to condemn it.

Foreign secretary James Cleverly described it as an "abhorrent act", adding that "intentionally attacking exclusively civilian infrastructure is a war crime."

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said the destruction of the dam would mark a "new low" in the conflict if Russian forces were found to be responsible.

He said that attacks on civilian infrastructure were "appalling and wrong."

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, center, chairs the emergency meeting of the National Security and Defense Council on the situation at the Kakhovka HPP after the dam was blown up overnight, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, June 6, 2023. (Ukrainian Presidential Office via AP)
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (centre) chairs the emergency meeting of the National Security and Defence Council on the situation at the Kakhovka dam. (AP)

German chancellor Olaf Scholz described the alleged attack as a "new dimension" of Russia's war, adding that it "joins many, many of the crimes we have seen in Ukraine that have emanated from Russian soldiers”.

NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said the destruction of the dam was an "outrageous act."

But Evgeny Popov, a member of the Duma for Putin’s United Russia party and state television presenter has said, said it was Ukraine that committed a war crime.

Asked whether he would accept that if Russia is found to be behind the attack, it committed a war crime, he told BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme: "I’m sure that this war crime made by the Ukrainian regime, made by Zelensky. We don’t need to do that. We are not attacking civilian infrastructure.

"Of course, Ukrainian regime will be prosecuted for this war crime."