Zelenskyy Aide: Russians Have Adopted ‘Tactics of Cowards’

Koya Ozeki / The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, speaks to the Yomiuri Shimbun at the Ukrainian Embassy in London on Friday.

LONDON — A close aide to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused the Russian military of adopting the “tactics of cowards” following the dam collapse earlier this month at the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant in southern Ukraine.

Ihor Zhovkva, deputy head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, also warned of a “nuclear disaster” if the international community was “careless” in an exclusive interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun in London on Friday.

Zhovkva was in the U.K. capital for the two-day Ukraine Recovery Conference, which ended Thursday.

The economic damage from the dam collapse is expected to be prolonged, according to Zhovkva. “It’s not only flooded areas — because the water sooner or later will go down — but it’s the absolutely terrible conditions of the arable lands, absence of water, interference in forestry, interference in food security because we can no longer grow crops there. It was one of the most fertile lands in Ukraine, and it’s absolutely out of use,” he said.

Although the cause of the dam collapse has not been confirmed, it is widely believed the Russian military deliberately destroyed it to cripple the Ukrainian military’s counteroffensive.

On Thursday, Zelenskyy said, “Russia is considering a scenario of a terrorist attack at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. A terrorist attack with radiation leakage.” He also said he had disclosed information to major countries and international organizations to support the claims.

Zhovkva suggested Russia might be trying to compensate for failures in the war. “It’s much easier to make an explosion underneath the Kakhovka nuclear power plant, or in Zaporizhzhia, than to achieve something on the battlefield,” he said.

Zhovkva, who accompanied Zelenskyy to the Group of Seven summit meeting in Hiroshima, urged the international community to respond quickly to avert a crisis.

“This time, let’s be very attentive … very particular about preemptive reaction, because they [Russia] are playing with fire,” he said. “We in Ukraine and you in Japan know what nuclear disaster is. We are the two countries to suffer from this.”