Russia announced on Wednesday (19) that it has begun the expulsion of about 60,000 residents of Kherson, one of Ukraine’s largest cities occupied by Moscow troops.
The Russian government said it wanted to remove all civilians for his troops to fight against the Ukrainian forces, who advance in the retaking of the cityin the south of the country.
One of four cities illegally annexed by Russia after a separation referendum not recognized by the international community, Kherson has been occupied by Russian troops since the start of the war in Ukraine on February 24.
In recent weeks, however, Ukraine has launched a strong offensive to reclaim the city, with logistical and military support from Western countries.
Russian local administration chief Vladimir Saldo said he would “fight until the last moment” for control of the city.
“Ukrainian forces are escalating the offensive, so there is no place for civilians. We do not plan to surrender, we will hold firm until the last moment. We are going to withdraw between 50,000 and 60,000 people to the left bank of the Dnieper.” the river that establishes the boundary with the city of Kherson, Saldo told the Rossiya-24 state channel.
Map shows Kherson region in southern Ukraine — Photo: g1
According to Saldo, the expulsion of civilians will be gradual. He said his troops aim to evacuate around 10,000 villagers a day over six days.
He claimed it was a security measure for civilians, and said his troops in the region had the resources to maintain control of Kherson.
The Ukrainian government has claimed that Russia is putting on a “propaganda show” in Kherson to try to demonstrate that its troops are still holding out. Kiev claims that Russian soldiers on the ground have no resources to fight back.
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The war in Ukraine has escalated in recent weeks, after the Ukrainian government began to put into practice the plan to retake the regions controlled by Russian troops, with the support of arms shipments from the West.
Russia, in response, held a referendum on the annexation of four cities – Kherson, Zaporizhzhia (where Europe’s largest nuclear power plant is located) and Donetsk and Luhansk, which were already partially controlled by pro-Russian separatist movements.
A week later, strong explosions attributed to Ukraine destroyed part of Crimea, the Ukrainian peninsula illegally annexed by Russia in 2014. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky did not acknowledge responsibility for the attack, but had already stated that “the war in Ukraine began and will end with Crimea”.
The road, the only link of the Crimea with Russian territory, it is also a strong symbol of Russian occupation, and was inaugurated by Vladimir Putin himself in 2018.
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Therefore, Putin ordered a strong counterattack and, just two days later, he bombed Kiev, which had been in relative calm since the end of March, was again the target of Russian bombing. It was the worst attack on the Ukrainian capital since the start of the war on 24 February.
Shortly after the attack, Vladimir Putin himself confirmed that the missiles over the Ukrainian capital were revenge for the explosion of the Crimean bridge.