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Wednesday 29 March 2023 Dublin: 14°C
Daniel Ceng Shou-Yi via PA Devasatation following a Russian missile attack.
# kherson
Pro-Kremlin officials say 50,000 will be evacuated from Kherson
Kherson was the first city to fall to Russian forces after the Kremlin launched its invasion on February 24.

LAST UPDATE | Oct 19th 2022, 10:03 AM

MOSCOW-INSTALLED AUTHORITIES in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region today said they planned to evacuate some 50,000 civilians due to a Ukrainian counter-offensive.

“We are expecting to evacuate between 50,000 and 60,000 people to the left bank of the Dnieper,” pro-Kremlin official Vladimir Saldo said on the Telegram channel “Solovyov Live”.

Saldo said he expected the evacuation to take six days and RIA Novosti news agency reported that evacuations by boat had already begun.

Citing another pro-Russian official, it said that the evacuees could travel to Russia.

RIA Novosti said local residents had received text messages urging them to evacuate “before the Ukrainian army begins bombing”.

Russia’s military commander for Ukraine operations said yesterday that Russian forces were planning a “safe evacuation”.

The city of Kherson and the surrounding region were captured by Russian forces at the beginning of the conflict in the spring.

Ukraine mounted a counter-offensive in the south at the end of the summer and has been pushing closer to Kherson.

Ukrainian advances have been on the right bank of the Dniepr, where Kherson is located, and Ukrainian strikes have targeted bridges to the left bank to disrupt supply lines.

Russian general Sergey Surovikin said yesterday on Russian state channel Rossiya 24 that the Russian army “will above all ensure the safe evacuation of the population”.

Surovikin said Ukrainian strikes targeting civilian infrastructure “create a direct threat to the lives of residents”.

“The situation in the area of the special military operation can be described as tense. The enemy is not abandoning its attempts to attack Russian troop positions,” he said.

Ukrainian officials, meanwhile, scrambled to rebuild damaged energy facilities across the country following a series of deadly Russian strikes and President Volodymyr Zelenskyy charged that Moscow’s purported use of Iranian-made drones in the attacks highlighted its “military and political bankruptcy”.

Russian General Sergey Surovikin, who has been in charge of recent operations in Ukraine, said the army was preparing to evacuate civilians from the city of Kherson, which is part of the four regions in Ukraine that Moscow recently claimed to have annexed.

But Ukrainian troops have been pushing increasingly closer to the city in recent weeks as part of a successful counter-offensive.

‘Critical’ across country

Ukraine warned of an emerging “critical” risk to its power grid after repeated Russian bombardments had destroyed one third of the country’s power facilities as winter approaches, according to the presidency.

Russian attacks rocked energy facilities in Kyiv and urban centres across Ukraine, causing blackouts and disrupting water supplies. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said three people had been killed in yesterday’s strikes.

“The situation is critical now across the country. It’s necessary for the whole country to prepare for electricity, water and heating outages,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, told Ukrainian television.

Drones also bombarded Kyiv on Monday, leaving five dead, officials said, in what the presidency described as an attack of Russian desperation after a string of battlefield losses.

Kyiv and its Western allies have accused Moscow of using Iranian-made drones in the strikes, a move Zelensky portrayed as a sign of Russia’s failure.

“The very fact of Russia’s appeal to Iran for such assistance is the Kremlin’s recognition of its military and political bankruptcy,” Zelenskyy said in his daily address.

Hospitals on back-up power

Many towns and cities in the Zhytomyr region, west of Kyiv, and parts of the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine were without electricity, leaving some hospitals to operate on backup power.

National emergency services said that after 10 days of strikes on energy facilities, over 1,100 towns and villages in nine regions had been left without power and more than 70 people were killed and 290 injured.

Kyiv also accused the Red Cross of “inaction” over its prisoners held by Russia, saying a lack of visits to detained soldiers and civilians meant they were vulnerable to being tortured.

war-rages-between-mykolaiv-and-kherson-ukraine ABACA / PA Images Disputed and reclaimed villages between Mykolaiv and Kherson. ABACA / PA Images / PA Images

And Ukraine’s state nuclear energy agency charged that Russia had detained two senior employees at the Russian-controlled Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in southern Ukraine and the UN nuclear watchdog asked to help secure their release.

Russian forces earlier yesterday claimed to have retaken territory from Ukrainian troops in the eastern Kharkiv region. It was Moscow’s first announced capture of a village there since being nearly entirely pushed out of the region last month.

Kremlin denies Iran drone use 

Tehran said it was ready for talks with Kyiv to clarify “baseless” claims that Iran is providing Russia with weapons and drones for its Ukraine war.

Following the wave of kamikaze drone attacks against Kyiv, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine should cut diplomatic ties with Iran.

The Kremlin said it had no knowledge of its army using Iranian drones in Ukraine.

“Russian tech is being used,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, referring other questions to the defence ministry.

The defence ministry did, however, confirm strikes on energy facilities over the past 24 hours, saying it had used long-range and precision weapons.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow could reduce its diplomatic presence in Western countries, blaming relations with Europe and Washington as well as Russia’s need to build ties elsewhere.

Yesterday, Russian investigators said initial indications suggest the crash of a military plane into a residential building near Ukraine was due to a technical malfunction.

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