“The situation in this area is difficult. The enemy is deliberately striking infrastructure and residential buildings in Kherson,” Sergei Surovikin, the Russian air force general now commanding Russia’s invasion forces, told the state-owned Rossiya 24 news channel.
“The Russian army will above all ensure the safe evacuation of the population of Kherson,” he said. “As a whole the situation in the special military operation zone can be described as tense.”
Kirill Stremousov, another Russia-installed regional official, warned Kherson residents of an assault from the Ukrainian troops “in the very near future”. “Please take my words seriously – I’m talking about evacuating as quickly as possible,” he said on the Telegram app.
Russian forces in Kherson have been driven back by 20-30 km (13-20 miles) in the last few weeks and are at risk of being pinned against the western bank of the 2,200-kilometre-long Dnipro river that bisects Ukraine.
Vladimir Rogov, a member of the Russian-installed council governing Zaporizhzhia, said that Kyiv’s forces had been carrying out overnight shelling of Russian-held Enerhodar, the town that houses most employees of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station. He said that there had been 10 strikes around the local thermal power station.
Kherson was the first to fall to Russian forcer after the offensive began on February 24. Moscow “annexed” three other Ukrainian regions after conducting “sham” referendums.