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Moscow-installed authorities in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region on Wednesday 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 on Tuesday 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 on Tuesday 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.
Pro-Kremlin officials in the Russian-controlled region of Kherson in southern Ukraine said Wednesday they had begun moving civilians from its main city, as Ukrainian forces advance south.
“In Kherson, the organised movement of residents to the other side of the Dnieper has begun,” pro-Russian officials in the town of Alyoshki said on social media, while Russia’s Rossiya 24 TV showed images of people waiting to board ferries to cross the river.
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