Residents urged to leave Russian city 'immediately'
All residents of Kherson should leave the city straight away and relocate to safe areas, the authorities of the new Russian region said in a statement on Saturday, citing a threat of “massive” Ukrainian shelling.
“Civilians living in Kherson and all the civilian administration departments and ministries should move to the left bank of the Dnieper River today,” the statement published on Telegram reads. The authorities called on the people to move south of the city, deeper into the territory of the region and away from the frontlines located north of the city of Kherson.
The administration also cited a “tense situation at the frontlines” and an “increased threat of massive shelling of the city,” as well as potential “terrorist attacks” as the reasons for the mandated “immediate” relocation.
The city’s residents started leaving Kherson several days ago. On October 18, acting Kherson governor Vladimir Saldo warned that Ukraine was “amassing forces” for an alleged “large-scale offensive” in the region. At that time, he announced evacuation of civilians from certain communities on the right bank of the Dnieper River.
Saldo also warned that some areas in the region, including in Kherson city, could be “flooded” if the Kakhovskaya hydroelectric dam on the Dnieper River is destroyed.
On Friday, Russia called on the UN Security Council to prevent Ukraine from destroying the dam. The Ukrainian forces were firing over 100 missiles daily, targeting the hydroelectric power plant in particular, Moscow’s ambassador to the UN, Vassily Nebenzia, told the UNSC briefing.
“Thousands of civilians may be killed, and thousands of homes damaged,” if the dam is destroyed, he warned.
Ukrainian forces have also been shelling the Dnieper River crossings amid the continued relocation. On Friday, one such attack killed four people and left 13 injured, according to local authorities.
Kherson Region was officially declared part of Russia in early October, together with Zaporozhye Region and the People’s Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk, after voters in those territories overwhelmingly supported the move in referendums. Kiev and the Western nations declared the votes a “sham” and continue to view the territories as part of Ukraine.