Pro-Russian authorities call on civilians to leave Kherson ‘immediately’

The pro-Russian authorities in the Kherson region, annexed by Russia in southern Ukraine, on Saturday called on all civilians to leave the regional capital “immediately” in the face of advancing forces from kyiv.

« All civilian residents of Kherson must leave the city immediately, » the region’s pro-Russian occupation administration said on Telegram on Saturday, citing a « tense situation at the front » and « increased danger of massive shelling ».

Evacuations to the left bank of the Dnieper River, which borders Kherson, have been underway since Wednesday. But Saturday’s call takes on added urgency. About 25,000 people have already been evacuated, Kherson official Kirill Stremousov told Russian news agency Interfax on Saturday.

If kyiv is making progress on the ground, it is still suffering heavy reprisals from the air, with Russian rocket fire throughout its territory, which President Volodymyr Zelensky denounces as a campaign of “terror”.

“The aggressor continues to terrorize our country. During the night, the aggressor launched a massive attack, with 36 rocket attacks,” the Ukrainian president counted on social media on Saturday.

One million Ukrainian homes without electricity

Russian forces « carried out a new attack with missiles on energy facilities of the main networks in the western regions of Ukraine », the Ukrainian operator Ukrenergo announced on social networks on Saturday.

More than a million households are without electricity in Ukraine following Russian strikes on energy infrastructure in the country, detailed on Saturday an adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Kyrylo Tymoshenko.

“To date, 672,000 subscribers have been disconnected in the Khmelnytskyi region, 188.00 in the Mikolaiv region, 102,000 in the Volyn region, 242,000 in the Cherkasy region, 174,790 in the Rivne region, 61,913 in the Kirovograd region and 10,500 in the Odessa region,” he counted.

« If there is no more power, electricity and water in Ukraine, it could trigger a new migratory tsunami », warned the Prime Minister of Ukraine, Denys Chmygal, in an interview to be published on Sunday in the German newspaper. Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Russia wants to “give Ukraine a cold winter, during which people could literally freeze to death. This could lead to a planned humanitarian catastrophe, the likes of which Europe has never seen since World War II,” warned Chmygal, who is due to attend the German-Ukrainian economic forum in Berlin on Monday.

Fear for our lives

Residents of Kherson boarded a train for southern Russia at a train station in the northern Crimean city of Dzhankoy, a Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014, an AFP journalist noted on Friday.

“We are leaving Kherson, because heavy shelling has started there, we are afraid for our lives,” said Valentina Yelkina, a pensioner who is traveling with her daughter.

Another Kherson resident, Yelena Bekesheva, 70, said she was on her way to Moscow. “We did not immediately make the decision [de partir] but then we were invited by our friends and relatives,” she told AFP.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated himself on Friday evening in a video on the « good results » of his army in this very strategic region where, he said, more than thirty Russian armored vehicles were captured.

Kherson is the first major city to be taken by Russian forces at the start of their offensive launched on February 24.

On the ground, an adviser to the Ukrainian presidency, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, reported on Friday that « 88 localities were taken over » from Russian forces in the Kherson region.

Energy restrictions are now « forcibly applied » in several Ukrainian regions including the capital kyiv and its region, according to Ukrenergo.

At the same time, Ukrainians have already voluntarily reduced their electricity consumption by 5% to 20% on average on certain days and in certain regions, Ukrenergo boss Volodymyr Kudrytsky told AFP.

Two people were killed Saturday in Ukrainian strikes against the Russian region of Belgorod, bordering Ukraine, also said Saturday the governor of the region, Vyacheslav Gladkov.

The shelling targeted « civilian infrastructure » in the town of Chebekino, Gladkov said on Telegram. “About 15,000 people were left without electricity,” he said. »

Russia denounced in mid-October a « considerable increase » in Ukrainian fire on several Russian border regions, including that of Belgorod, but also that of Kursk and Bryansk.

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