Russia understands “very well” that it will lose the war with Ukraine following the destruction of the Kakhovka dam, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said on Wednesday.
"They are afraid that we will start a counteroffensive in this direction (Kherson), and they want to make the liberation of our territories more difficult…They understand very well that they will lose this battle. They are prolonging the liberation of our territories,” Zelenskyy said in an interview with the German newspaper Bild.
With regards to the Kakhovka dam, he said Kyiv had information that “something was going to happen,” which it shared with its partners.
Zelenskyy further said that Ukraine could not present any evidence that the dam was blown by Russian forces due to it being in the territories under Russian control.
"What evidence can we have? When we are there, we will collect evidence,” he said.
He noted that international experts should be involved.
He also slammed the UN and the Red Cross for not being present in the area “in order to save lives” and expressed disappointment over the lack of a response to inquiries submitted by Ukraine.
He also touched on Ukraine’s long-awaited counteroffensive against Russia, saying the dam’s destruction does not make things any easier.
“What is happening right now is a tragedy, an environmental disaster and a human disaster. That doesn't help us with the counteroffensive. It doesn't make the counteroffensive any easier," he said.
Russia and Ukraine on Tuesday accused each other of damaging the Kakhovka dam, which led to the flooding of the neighboring settlements.
Moscow accused Kyiv of attempting to cut Crimea off from the fresh water it receives from the Kakhovka Reservoir formed by the dam, while Kyiv claimed that Russia is trying to slow an expected counteroffensive.
‘Big internal scandal’
In the interview, Zelenskyy also said there is “a big internal scandal” in Russia between Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Yevgeny Prigozhin, the head of the Wagner paramilitary group.
“There is a war, which they call the ‘special military operation’ and a political struggle. And a very serious one at that. Between different armies, both state and private,” Zelenskyy said, adding he thinks his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin knows this is the case.
He further claimed that those close to Putin “have lost faith in him” and that this is affecting the Russian military and other things.
He also denied that Ukraine is fighting in Russia’s Belgorod region.
“We are not fighting on foreign territory. We are only liberating our territory…We are at war with the Russian Federation on our territory, not on their territory."
Ukraine’s armed forces reportedly launched a series of attacks on Russia's border regions in recent months, notably Bryansk and Belgorod, which were hit with drones and artillery and were raided by paramilitary groups.
Zelenskyy also denied Ukraine’s involvement in the Nord Stream pipeline explosions last September.
“I am president, and I give orders accordingly. Ukraine has done nothing of the sort. I would never act like that,” he said.
The Nord Stream pipelines, which carried Russian natural gas to northern Germany via the Baltic Sea, were ruptured in a series of blasts on Sept. 26 last year, causing leaks in what officials from countries in the region called "likely sabotage."