KRYVYÏ RIG, Ukraine: In Lioubov Adamenko’s cellar, dozens of jars are floating, head over heels, in stagnant water. For two days, mud has covered his district of Kryvyi Rig (South), after the Russian army blew up a new dam in Ukraine.
“I got all my jams back,” she says almost joyously, even though many other preserves remain untraceable. Every summer, the solid babushka (grandmother) with thin lips adorned with a line of lipstick explains that she puts the fruits and vegetables she will eat in winter in glass jars.
A tradition of little people, which allows food, but also to save, when the cold is biting, she says.
In the past, her grandparents, who built the small workers’ house with a vegetable garden in which she lives in the Soviet Union, did the same.
This winter, summer dishes will have a bitter taste. The fault of the Russian army, which on Wednesday afternoon blew up the Karatchoun hydraulic dam, built in the 1930s under Joseph Stalin, when Ukraine and Russia belonged to the same group.
The work was located less than 10 km as the crow flies from the family home. “I played there when I was young”, remembers the energetic almost-septuagenarian who will celebrate his 70th birthday next week. But her birthday party is already ruined by the Russian army and its soldiers, “worse than pigs”, she complains.
Because on Wednesday, eight cruise missiles smashed the wall of the Karatchoun reservoir, accuses kyiv.
– ‘War against civilians’ –
The Ingulets River, which borders the district of Lioubov Adamenko, then gradually came out of its bed, rising several meters. More than a hundred houses were flooded below, local authorities estimate. On Friday afternoon, some streets in Kryvyi Rig were still covered in mud.
“The (Russian) terrorist state continues to wage a war against civilians,” denounced Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, a native of this city. Moscow wants to “sow panic”, “leave people without light, heating, water and food”.
A few days earlier, the Ukrainian authorities had denounced Russian bombardments on strategic infrastructures which had led to massive power cuts in many regions.
“(The Russians) got angry because our army pushed them back in a particularly successful counter-offensive in the East, but visibly less decisive in the Kherson region (South), neighboring Kryvyï Rig, believes Svitlana Chpouk, a 42-year-old worker.
“It’s not a natural disaster, it’s war. They just decided to flood us, the people,” sighs this worker wearing rubber boots, whose house has also suffered.
Moscow, by destroying the dam, thus “tried to raise the water level of the Ingulets River to damage the pontoon bridges installed by the Ukrainian army in the south,” analyst Sergiy Zgurets told AFP. military based in Kyiv.
– ‘Demoralize’ –
The Institute for the Study of War, an independent American research center, operated the same reasoning on Thursday. The Ingulets is “an important element of the counter-offensive” in the south, the Ukrainian troops trying to progress from this river, he observed.
The water issue is also a “key tool of war” in Ukraine, notes an analyst from the British research center Janes.
And this expert recalls that in 2014, after the annexation of Crimea by Moscow, kyiv had a dam built on the Dnipro river, depriving this Russian territory of 85% of its water resources. The work was “destroyed by Russian troops” on the first day of the war this year, he claims.
Ukrainian forces also opened a barrage near Irpin, north of kyiv, in late February, flooding the village of Demydiv, to slow the Russian advance on the capital, which then seemed imminent.
Now, one of the main objectives of the Kremlin is to “suppress the resistance of the Ukrainian population”, to “demoralize them”, even to “potentially foment unrest” within it against its authorities by depriving it of water. or electricity, observes Janes’ analyst.
Seen from Kryvyi Rig the maneuver seems inconclusive. Asked about the Russian army, the babushka Lioubov Adamenko, a purring kitten on the left shoulder, seems even more lifted. And to launch: “let her do like the ship” Russian Admiral Moskva, which sank in mid-April off the coast of Ukraine.