Over a week after Moscow promised free accommodation to residents living in the partially occupied Kherson region to tempt them to flee to Russia, the Russian-installed administration ordered all residents living here to leave “immediately” on Saturday in anticipation of an advance by Ukrainian troops, who have launched a counteroffensive to recapture one of the first urban areas Russia took after invading the country
Evacuees from Kherson gather upon their arrival at the railway station in Dzhankoi, Crimea on Friday. Russian authorities have encouraged residents of Kherson to evacuate, warning that the city may come under massive Ukrainian shelling. (Photo: AP)
By India Today Web Desk: Over a week after Moscow promised free accommodation to residents living in the partially occupied Kherson region to tempt them to flee to Russia, the Russian-installed administration ordered all residents living here to leave “immediately” on Saturday in anticipation of an advance by Ukrainian troops, who have launched a counteroffensive to recapture one of the first urban areas Russia took after invading the country.
The regional pro-Kremlin administration has asked citizens to move deeper into Russian-held territory, citing a tense situation on the front and the threat of shelling and alleged “terror attacks” by Kyiv.
Kherson is one of the four Ukrainian territories illegally annexed by Russia through sham referendums held last month. The three other annexed regions are Donetsk, Luhansk, and Zaporizhzhia.
On Friday, Ukrainian forces bombarded Russian positions across the province, inching closer to a full assault on its capital as they targeted pro-Kremlin forces’ resupply routes across the Dnieper River. The presidential office said in its morning statement that five explosive-laden drones were downed in the central Cherkasy region southeast of Kyiv.
The western city of Khmelnytskyi, which straddles the Bug river and was home to some 275,000 people before the war, was left with no electricity, shortly after local media reported several loud explosions.
The mayor of Lutsk, a city of 215,000 in Ukraine’s far west, made a similar appeal on Telegram on Saturday. Power in Lutsk had been partially knocked out after Russian missiles slammed into local energy facilities, he said.
The central city of Uman, a key pilgrimage center for Hasidic Jews which counted some 100,000 residents before the war, was also plunged into darkness after a rocket hit a nearby power station, regional authorities said on Telegram.
In the capital and four surrounding regions, including Cherkasy, rolling blackouts came into effect on Saturday morning in response to the reduced power supplies. The state energy company Ukrenergo continued to urge all Ukrainians to conserve energy.
Earlier this week, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on consumers to curb their power use between 7am and 11am daily, and avoid using energy-guzzling appliances such as electric heaters.
Over the past two weeks, Moscow has increased its attacks on key civilian infrastructure across Ukraine. About 40% of the country’s electric power system has been severely damaged, officials said. Zelenskyy said earlier in the week that 30% of Ukraine’s power stations have been destroyed since Oct. 10.
(With inputs from AP)