Russia ends civilian pull-out before Kherson battle

Russian officials say they have completed an operation to move civilians out of the occupied southern city of Kherson ahead of an expected battle with advancing Ukrainian forces.

At least 70,000 civilians are said to have crossed to the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro River, in what Ukraine has called forced deportations.

“We’re preparing Kherson for defence,” one Russian militia commander said.

Meanwhile, Russia said it had mobilised the required 300,000 reservists.

Defence Minister, Sergei Shoigu, told President Vladimir Putin that 41,000 of those called up had already been deployed to the battlefield in Ukraine. The numbers have not been independently verified.

The minister’s comments come amid growing public anger across Russia over the mobilisation drive.

Soon after launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Mr Putin pledged that only those on contracts with the armed forces would be sent to fight in Ukraine. But in September, he was forced to order a partial mobilisation, following a string of military defeats.

MrShoigu was warned on Friday by a member of the Russian parliament that recruits were being sent to the front line without training. Maxim Ivanov said it was unacceptable to send recruits to places such as Donetsk unprepared.

Ukraine’s southern Kherson region was one of four areas of Ukraine declared annexed by Vladimir Putin last month, despite Russia not having total control of any of them.

Kherson city was captured shortly after Russia’s invasion began – but in recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have steadily recaptured territory on the west or right bank of the Dnipro. The front line is 30km (18 miles) away from the city, according to Ukrainian officials.

Russian-installed officials have warned of an assault on the regional capital in the near future. However, Ukraine’s defence minister, Oleksii Reznikov, has described the counter-offensive as really difficult because of the tough terrain and rainy weather which make it harder to use fighting vehicles with wheels.

The man installed by Russia’s occupying authorities in annexed Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, posted pictures of the bank of the Dnipro on Thursday night, during a visit with a leading figure in the Kremlin, Sergei Kiriyenko. -BBC

Show More
Back to top button