The announcement by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khosnolin came shortly after the head of the Moscow-backed administration in Kherson, Vladimir Saldo, appealed to the Kremlin to help keep the population out of harm’s way, in the latest indication that the Russian forces were struggling In the face of Ukrainian progress.
The Ukrainian army is carrying out a counterattack in Kherson and the eastern parts of the country, retaking the territories occupied by Russia as well as striking critical infrastructure such as bridges and railways.
Saldo claimed that cities around Kherson, one of four Ukrainian regions that Russia claimed to have annexed in violation of international law, were subjected to serious air strikes.
Saldo said that the local Russian leadership “decided to organize the possibility for Kherson families to travel to other regions of the Russian Federation.”
“We suggested that all residents of the Kherson region, if there is such a desire, to protect themselves from the consequences of missile strikes, go to other regions … to take their children and leave.”
Fighting has intensified in Kherson in recent weeks, as Kyiv presses ahead with its goal of retaking parts of the region occupied by Russia in the early days of the war. the invasion. US and Ukrainian officials He said last month They hope to restore all Kherson by the end of the year.
As of last weekUkraine said it regained 2,400 square kilometers (927 square miles) in Kherson, which was previously under Russian control. The authorities in Kyiv Wed said They liberated five other small rural villages with the Ukrainian army’s incursion into the southwest.
As Ukrainian forces surged forward, Saldo appealed to Russian leaders to help Russian-backed local officials transport civilians.
“We, residents of the Kherson region, of course know that Russia does not abandon its people,” said Saldo.
However, Kirill Strimosov, deputy head of the military administration of the Kherson region, said that the civilian transfers were not “evacuations”.
“There is no evacuation in the Kherson region and there can be no evacuation,” he said.
Strimosov openly criticized the decision-makers of the war in Moscow and on the battlefield. last weekHe blamed the military setbacks in Kherson on “incompetent commanders” who were not held accountable for their mistakes.
On Thursday, Strimosov insisted that Saldo was only asking the authorities “to help organize the departure of residents of the Kherson region for temporary residence and rest in other regions of the Russian Federation.”
We urge residents of Kherson region to remain calm and not panic. “No one will withdraw Russian troops from the Kherson region,” Strimosov said. “This is not an evacuation, this is an opportunity to save lives.”
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