Russia It said on Thursday that its forces would help evacuate residents of occupied Kherson to other areas Kiev continued to make gains in its offensive to retake part of southern Ukraine.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Kuznul’s announcement came shortly after Vladimir Zalto, head of the Moscow-backed administration in Kherson, appealed to the Kremlin to help move residents out of harm’s way. Russian forces were struggling In the face of Ukrainian developments.
The Ukrainian military has launched a counteroffensive in Kherson and eastern parts of the country, retaking territory occupied by Russia and attacking critical infrastructure such as bridges and railways.
Salto said towns across Kherson, one of four Ukrainian regions that Russia says it annexed in violation of international law, have been hit by deadly airstrikes.
Salto said that the local Russian leadership “has decided to organize an opportunity for the Kherson families to travel to other parts of the Russian Federation.”
“We recommended that all residents of the Kherson region, to save themselves from the consequences of the missile attacks, move to other areas … take their children and leave.”
Fighting in Kherson has intensified in recent weeks, with Kiev advancing with the goal of retaking parts of the region captured by Russia in the early days. Invasion. American and Ukrainian officials said last month They hoped to get all of Kherson back by the end of the year.
Until last week, Ukraine says 2,400 square kilometers (927 sq mi) in Kherson were previously under Russian control. Officials in Kiev said Wednesday As the Ukrainian army pushed further south-west it liberated five more small rural villages.
Salto appealed to Russian leaders to help local pro-Russian authorities move civilians as Ukrainian forces advance.
“Residents of the Kherson region, of course, we know that Russia has not abandoned its own people,” Salto said.
However, Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Kherson region’s military administration, said civilian transport was not an “evacuation”.
“There is no evacuation in the Kherson region, it cannot be,” he said.
Stremosov was openly critical of the war’s decision-makers in Moscow and on the battlefield. Last weekHe blamed the military setbacks in Kherson on “incompetent commanders” who did not take responsibility for their mistakes.
On Thursday, Stremousov stressed that Saldo only demanded “help arrange temporary accommodation and rest for residents of the Kherson region in other parts of the Russian Federation.”
“We ask residents of the Kherson region to remain calm and not to panic. Nobody is going to withdraw Russian troops from the Kherson region,” Stremousov said. “This is not an evacuation, this is an opportunity to save lives.”