Putin forced to evacuate civilians in Russia-occupied regions

Russian soldier survives Ukrainian attack on his tank

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Vladimir Putin’s military was reportedly forced to evacuate civilians in Russian-annexed regions of Ukraine as Volodymyr Zelensky’s forces ramped up their counter-offence. Russia’s TASS news agency reported a first group of civilians fleeing from Kherson was expected to arrive in Russia’s Rostov region as soon as Friday. “Every day, the cities of Kherson region are subjected to missile attacks,” Russian-installed Kherson administration chief Vladimir Saldo said in a video message.

“As such, the leadership of the Kherson administration has decided to provide Kherson families with the option to travel to other regions of the Russian Federation to rest and study,” he said.

“We suggested that all residents of the Kherson region, if they wish, to protect themselves from the consequences of missile strikes, … go to other regions,” he said. People should “leave with their children”.

The prompt to go applied foremost to residents on the west bank of the Dnipro River, he said. That includes the regional capital, the only major Ukrainian city Russia has captured intact since invading in February.

Kherson is one of four partially occupied Ukrainian provinces that Russia claims to have annexed in recent weeks, and arguably the most strategically important. It controls both the only land route to the Crimea peninsula Russia seized in 2014, and the mouth of the Dnipro, the 2,200 km (1,367 mile)-long river that bisects Ukraine.

Since the start of October, Ukrainian forces have burst through Russia’s front lines there in their biggest advance in the south since the war began. They have since been advancing rapidly along the west bank, aiming to cut off thousands of Russian troops from supply lines and potential escape routes across it.

Tass quoted the governor of Russia’s Rostov region, which borders on the Ukrainian territories Russia claims to have annexed, as saying his region was prepared to host anyone who chose to leave Kherson, with the first group expected on Friday.

More to follow…

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