Russia announces civilian evacuation from annexed Ukraine city

Russian attacks rock energy facilities in Kyiv and urban centres across Ukraine, causing blackouts


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A man walks through a shopping street destroyed by Russian strikes in the recently liberated town of Kupiansk. — Reuters
A man walks through a shopping street destroyed by Russian strikes in the recently liberated town of Kupiansk. — Reuters

Published: Wed 19 Oct 2022, 12:27 AM

Last updated: Wed 19 Oct 2022, 12:28 AM

Russia announced the evacuation of civilians from a key southern Ukrainian city on Tuesday as it acknowledged the situation for its troops on the ground in Ukraine was “tense” in the face of a counter-offensive.

General Sergey Surovikin, who has been in charge of operations in Ukraine for the past 10 days, said the army was preparing to evacuate civilians from the city of Kherson.

Kherson is one of the four regions in Ukraine that Moscow recently claimed to have annexed.

It was the first major Ukrainian city to fall to Russian forces after the war.

But Ukrainian forces mounted a counter-offensive in the south towards the end of the summer and have been pushing increasingly closer to the city.

“The Russian army will above all ensure the safe evacuation of the population” of Kherson, Surovikin told state television Rossiya 24, describing the situation as “very difficult”.

Ukrainian strikes targeting civilian infrastructure “create a direct threat to the lives of residents”, he said.


The Russian military commander also accepted that the situation was “tense” for its troops in Ukraine, who have suffered several major setbacks in the east and south.

“The situation in the area of the special military operation can be described as tense,” Surovikin said.

“The enemy is not abandoning its attempts to attack Russian troop positions,” he added.

Russian forces earlier on Tuesday claimed to have retaken territory from Ukrainian troops in the eastern Kharkiv region.

It was Moscow’s first announced capture of a village there since being nearly entirely pushed out of the region last month.

Ukraine warned on Tuesday of an emerging “critical” risk to its power grid after President Volodymyr Zelensky said that repeated Russian bombardments had destroyed one-third of the country’s power facilities as winter approaches.

Russian attacks rocked energy facilities in Kyiv and urban centres across the country, causing blackouts and disrupting water supplies, a day after the capital was bombarded with a swarm of suicide drones.

“The situation is critical now across the country. It’s necessary for the whole country to prepare for electricity, water and heating outages,” Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the Ukrainian president’s office, told Ukrainian television.

The strikes in the early hours of Tuesday hit Kyiv, Kharkiv in the east, Mykolaiv in the south and central regions of Dnipro and Zhytomyr, where officials said hospitals were running on backup generators.

Drones also bombarded Kyiv on Monday — the second in a row — leaving five dead, officials said, in what the presidency described as an attack of desperation after a string of battlefield losses.

Kyiv on Tuesday also accused the Red Cross of “inaction” over its prisoners held by Russia, saying a lack of visits to detained soldiers and civilians meant they were vulnerable to being tortured.

Many towns and cities in the Zhytomyr region, west of Kyiv, and parts of the city of Dnipro in central Ukraine were without electricity, while power was restored to the southern city of Mykolaiv after strikes overnight.

“Now the city is cut off from electricity and water supplies. Hospitals are working on backup power,” the mayor of Zhytomyr, Sergiy Sukhomlyn, said in a statement online.

The national emergency services said that after 10 days of strikes on energy facilities, some 1,162 towns and villages in nine regions had been left without power and more than 70 people were killed and 290 injured.

Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko said three people had been killed in Tuesday’s strikes.

Tehran on Tuesday said it was ready for talks with Kyiv to clarify “baseless” claims that Iran is providing Russia with weapons and drones to be used in the war against Ukraine.

Kyiv and its Western allies have accused Moscow of using Iranian-made drones in recent attacks.

Following the wave of kamikaze drone attacks against Kyiv on Monday, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Ukraine should cut diplomatic ties with Iran, citing the “death” and “destruction” caused by the drones.

The Kremlin said on Tuesday it had no knowledge of its army using Iranian drones in Ukraine.

“Russian tech is being used,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, referring other questions to the defence ministry.

The defence ministry did however confirm strikes on energy facilities over the past 24 hours, saying it had used long-range and precision weapons.

Western officials said it was “increasingly evident that Russia is pursuing a deliberate strategy of trying to destroy heating, electrical networks” and that Iranian drones were playing an “increasingly significant role” in the conflict.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow could reduce its diplomatic presence in Western countries, blaming relations with Europe and the United States as well as Russia’s need to build ties elsewhere.

On Tuesday, Russian investigators said initial indications suggest that the crash of a military plane into a residential building near Ukraine was due to a technical malfunction.

Investigators said they were questioning the pilots of the Sukhoi Su-34, who managed to parachute out of the plane before it crashed on Monday evening into the nine-storey building, engulfing it in flames

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