Russian-installed authorities in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson ordered an “immediate” evacuation of residents, amid warnings of an impending Ukrainian counteroffensive to retake the city.
In a Telegram report, authorities called on all civilians in Kherson to leave the city “immediately”, citing the “tense situation” and increased danger of shelling.
As thousands of civilians have been fleeing for days across the Dnipro River, today’s warning from the Russian authorities marks an emergency.
Residents have been urged to use boat crossings to travel deeper into Russian-controlled territory.
The city is the capital of a region of the same name, which was one of four regions illegally annexed by Russia last month following referenda described as a “sham” by the West.
The city is strategically important and a primary objective for both sides due to its important river and sea port.
The warning comes as Ukrainian forces advance along the western bank of the Dnipro River, aiming to retake the city.
On Friday, Ukrainian forces shelled Russian positions across the province, closing in on a full assault on its capital as they targeted supply routes.
In its daily intelligence update, the British Ministry of Defense said that Russian forces were continuing to reinforce crossing points on the Dnipro River in Ukrainebut face “increasing pressure” in Kherson.
All departments and ministries of Russian– The administration installed in Kherson was also ordered to leave.
This week, Russian commander General Sergei Surovikin said the situation in Kherson was “already difficult” and that Russia was “not ruling out tough decisions” there.
However, during a briefing on Saturday, the Russian Defense Ministry said its forces repelled a Ukrainian attempt to break through its Line of Control in the Kherson region. Reuters has not been able to independently verify these claims.
Ukrainian forces recaptured a number of villages in the area during its counteroffensive.
“More than a million” without electricity
The move comes as Russia continues its missile strikes on critical infrastructure in Ukraine. On Saturday, the Ukrainian Air Force said several regions reported strikes against energy facilities and power outages.
The force command reported that 33 missiles were fired at Ukraine on Saturday morning and 18 of them were shot down.
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Presidential adviser Kyrylo Tymoshenko said as of Saturday afternoon more than a million people across Ukraine were without power, including 672,000 in the western Khmelnytskyi region alone.
Over the past two weeks, Russia has intensified its attacks on power plants, water supply systems and other key infrastructure.
State energy company Ukrenergo urged all Ukrainians to save energy.
Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called on consumers to limit their electricity consumption between 7 a.m. and 11 a.m. every day.