Conflicts & War

Kherson evacuation begins ahead of expected Ukraine counteroffensive

Moscow, Oct 19 (EFE).- Russian-installed officials on Wednesday confirmed that the evacuation of civilians from Kherson was underway ahead of an expected advance on the southern city by Ukrainian forces.

Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-planted governor of the Kherson region, said authorities expected to evacuate up to 60,000 people to the left bank of the Dnieper river throughout the week, Russian media reported Wednesday.

The governor had urged residents to cross the river in a TV address on Tuesday as Ukrainian troops consolidated their territorial gains to the north of the city, which is the provincial capital of the Kherson region, one of four Ukrainian regions Moscow annexed last month following internationally-dismissed referendums.

He said the evacuation would allow Russian troops to fortify defensive lines.

“I ask everyone to remain calm and not listen to those who sow panic, the region of Kherson will remain under the secure protection of the Russian army,” he said.

Sergei Surovikin, the new commander of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, warned that the situation was becoming “difficult” in the region.

“Right now it is quite complicated,” he said in a TV interview on Tuesday.

“We will act consciously, opportunely, without ruling out difficult decisions.”

He accused the Ukrainian army of deliberately targeting infrastructure and housing in Kherson.

Russian-backed authorities in the region said centers for the displaced would be set up in Oleshky and Hola Prystan, both located on the other side of the Dnieper from Kherson city.

Kherson city is a strategically important port with access to the Black Sea via the Dnieper.

The city is currently one of three provincial capitals held by the Russians, and the only one captured since the invasion began in February this year – Donetsk and Luhansk, in the east, came under de facto pro-Russian control in 2014.

The pro-Russian de facto leaders of Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhizhia and Kherson joined Russia’s Vladimir Putin in Moscow last month for a grandiose ceremony celebrating the supposed annexation of the territory by Russia, despite the fact none are fully controlled by Moscow’s troops. EFE


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