Ukrainians demanding Vladimir Putin’s forces leave their homeland decried Russia as a “terrorist state”, as they left messages on paper boats for consulate staff to read after a major dam was damaged.
Russian forces have been accused of blowing up the massive dam and hydroelectric power station in part of southern Ukraine Moscow controls, sparking a protest outside Russia’s Edinburgh consulate.
The aftermath of the incident has caused flooding downstream, and at the New Town protest on Tuesday Ukrainian Zhenya Dove said: “People have lost everything.”
The 34-year-old, who now lives in Edinburgh, said people in the region she had spoken to reported “water up to the ceiling of their houses”, and added: “You see all these landmarks that I went to as a child, that have a special meaning, it’s all destroyed.
“It doesn’t exist, and I don’t see any chance of it being rebuilt like to how it was before.
“People lost everything. My friends evacuated, but a lot of older people just stayed there and are left with nothing.”
Ms Dove, who has lived in Britain for 14 years but has family in the area which is now part of Russian-occupied Ukraine, said: “I’ve never seen anything like this. It’s something from some horror film.”
Outside the Russian consulate on Tuesday, with its shutters closed, temporary fencing stopping people approaching its doorstep and a fading Russian flag flying, there were cries of “Slava Ukraini” as demonstrators decried Russia’s continued assault on Ukraine.
Protesters made paper boats, with messages, and taped them onto the embassy’s temporary fence. One protester could be seen shoving some through the post box of the Melville Street building.
Bohdan Kramar, 19, who is now living in Inverkeithing, Fife, after coming from Vovchansk, described Russia as a “terrorist state”.
“It’s absolutely true. They destroy civic buildings,” he said.
And the teenager questioned why the Russian consulate was still in the Scottish capital: “Why in Edinburgh is there still this part of Russia? What’s the point?”
Maryan Pokhylyy said he wanted to see the consulate shut.
“This is not a political debate, this is a debate between good and evil,” he said.
The 29-year-old Ukrainian said people near the impacted area were preparing to take refugees from the flooded zone, and many had “lost everything due to flooding” and warned that the “water levels will rise”.
Ukrainian authorities have ordered hundreds of thousands of residents downriver to evacuate.
Russian officials claim the dam, on the Dnipro river, was damaged by Ukrainian military strikes in the contested area.
Rishi Sunak has said the destruction of the Kakhovka dam in Ukraine would mark a “new low” in the conflict if Russian forces were found to be responsible.
Mr Sunak said: “Our military and intelligence agencies are currently looking at it, so it’s too soon to pre-empt that and make a definitive judgment.
“But what I can say is if it is intentional, it would represent, I think, the largest attack on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine since the start of the war, and just would demonstrate the new lows that we would have seen from Russian aggression.
“Attacks on civilian infrastructure are appalling and wrong. We’ve seen previous instances of that in this conflict so far, but it’s too early to say definitively.”
There are concerns that the damage to the dam could have broad consequences: flooded homes, streets and businesses downstream; depleted water levels upstream that help cool Europe’s largest nuclear power station; and drained supplies of drinking water to the south in Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed.