| 19 April 2024, Friday |

Russian-installed governor of Ukraine’s Kherson suggests residents leave

The Russian-installed governor of Ukraine’s Kherson region volunteered to assist its population flee amid severe combat between Russian and advancing Ukrainian forces on Thursday and gained Moscow’s support.

The majority of the Kherson area was captured in the early days of Russia’s invasion, when troops from neighboring Crimea were pushed in. It is one of four partially occupied Ukrainian districts that Russia declared its own last month, a decision that was roundly criticized by the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.

However, it has been the focal point of a major push by Ukrainian forces since August.

In a video statement posted on Telegram, Russian-installed governor Vladimir Saldo officially requested government assistance in relocating citizens to safer areas of Russia.

“Every day, the cities of the Kherson area are targeted by missiles,” Saldo added.

“As a result, the Kherson administration’s leadership has decided to provide Kherson families the option of traveling to other parts of the Russian Federation to relax and study,” he said, adding that residents should “leave with their children.”

Moments later, his deputy Kirill Stremousov posted a video saying Saldo’s appeal was “not a call for evacuation”, adding that there was no cause for panic and “nobody is planning to withdraw Russian troops from the Kherson region”.

But Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin, who has special responsibility for southern Russia and Crimea, promptly said Moscow would “fully assist the administration of the Kherson region in accommodating the residents of the region in other regions of the Russian Federation”.

In a video message, he stated that individuals departing Kherson would be given with free accommodation and supplies, as well as housing if they chose to remain outside Kherson permanently.

The integration of the four territories by Russia has been condemned by Kiev and the West as an unlawful annexation similar to that of Crimea, which Russia annexed in 2014. In a vote held on Wednesday at the United Nations General Assembly, 143 of 193 nations denounced it.

According to Ukrainian officials, hundreds of thousands of Kherson people have left, largely to unoccupied areas of Ukraine, including half of the regional capital’s pre-war population.

Any significant territorial losses in Kherson would limit Russia’s access to the Crimean Peninsula farther south, the restoration of which Kyiv has sought since 2014.

  • Reuters