Russia begins evacuation of civilians from Kherson in Ukraine

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In one of the biggest signs of Russia losing grip on territory in Ukraine, the Russian-installed governor of southern Kherson region suggested residents leave for Russian regions. He has advised that the resident take their children. As per Russia’s TASS news agency, first group of civilians escaping from Kherson will arrive in Russia’s Rostov region by Friday 

Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24 this year. After initial months of gaining territory, the Russian forces have had to retreat in the face of counteroffensive by Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian forces have recaptured swathes of territory including those Russia claimed were annexed and would remain Russian ‘forever’. 

“Every day, the cities of Kherson region are subjected to missile attacks,” Russian-installed Kherson administration chief Vladimir Saldo said in a video message.

“As such, the leadership of Kherson administration has decided to provide Kherson families with the option to travel to other regions of the Russian Federation to rest and study,” he said.

“We suggested that all residents of the Kherson region, if they wish, to protect themselves from the consequences of missile strikes, … go to other regions,” he said. People should “leave with their children”.

The prompt to go applied foremost to residents on the west bank of the Dnipro River, he said. That includes the regional capital, the only major Ukrainian city Russia has captured intact since invading in February.

Russia has claimed that it has annexed Kherson region. The region is strategically important. It controls land route to Crimea as well as mouth of the Dnipro river. Russia has annexed Crimea in 2014.

Since the start of October, Ukrainian forces have burst through Russia’s front lines there in their biggest advance in the south since the war began. They have since been advancing rapidly along the west bank, aiming to cut off thousands of Russian troops from supply lines and potential escape routes across it.

Russia has concentrated many of its best-trained troops to defend its grip on Kherson’s west bank. But that force can only be supplied across the river, which is several kilometres wide and has few crossings.

(With inputs from agencies)

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