Ukraine to begin voluntary evacuation from Kherson: Deputy PM | Russia-Ukraine war News

Ukraine will start evacuating people who want to leave the recently liberated southern city of Kherson and its surrounding areas, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said, saying that the Russian army’s damage to infrastructure has made life extremely difficult for residents.

News of the evacuation came after Russian missiles were reported to have hit an oil depot in Kherson late Saturday, the first time a fuel depot has been hit in the city since Russia withdrew more than a week ago, officials said.

Vereschuk said on Saturday that several people had expressed a desire to leave the city of Kherson and the area around Mykolaiv, 65 km (40 miles) northwest.

“It’s possible in the next few days,” he told a televised press conference in Mykolaiv when asked when the evacuation from Kherson would begin.

Vereschuk said the government has already made the necessary preparations for the evacuation. Among those willing to leave were the elderly and victims of Russian shelling, he said.

“This is only a voluntary evacuation. So far, we are not talking about forced relocation,” said Vereschuk.

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“However, even in cases of voluntary evacuation, the government is responsible for transportation. “People should be taken to their winter quarters,” he said.

The government had several evacuation options, one of which was to use Mykolaiv as a transit point before sending people to safer areas of the country, he added.

In August, Vereshchuk said that Ukraine plans to increase the number of front-line districts where citizens will be forced to evacuate, because these areas may be occupied, and Ukraine will face heating problems in the winter.

Two rockets hit a fuel depot in Kherson on Saturday, firefighters at the scene told The Associated Press.

Anton Gerashchenko, Ukraine’s deputy interior minister and government adviser, posted a short video on Twitter showing thick smoke billowing after a powerful explosion in Kherson on Saturday.

“Russia continues its terror every day,” he wrote.

Ukrainian authorities have accused Russian troops of destroying critical infrastructure in the city of Kherson before retreating earlier this month.

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Local authorities also told The Associated Press that Russian troops stole a fire truck and an ambulance as they left the Kherson region, and firefighters are now looking for resources to respond to rocket and other attacks.

President Volodymyr Zelensky and other officials have accused Russia of trying to destabilize the country by freezing the population, forcing millions of Ukrainians to flee west and destroying power plants to fuel a refugee crisis in the European Union.

Ukraine’s Energy Ministry said on Saturday that the country’s electricity supply was under control despite ongoing Russian attacks on power generation infrastructure.

A Russian missile attack knocked out nearly half of Ukraine’s power system, and Kyiv authorities said on Friday that the capital’s power grid could be completely shut down.

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The center of Lviv was dark, without electricity, and important civil infrastructure objects were hit by Russian missiles.
Photo shows the central city of Lviv without power after a Russian missile attack in Ukraine hit critical civilian infrastructure on November 15, 2022. [Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters]

“We confirm that the power supply situation is critical but under control,” the Energy Ministry said in a statement.

Authorities are urging households to reduce their electricity consumption by at least 25 percent to help with repairs, the ministry said.

Maxim Timchenko, head of DTEK, the country’s largest private energy company, said people should not flee the country as the armed forces, the energy sector and Ukrainian individuals are doing wonders to maintain supplies.

“That is why there is no need to leave Ukraine today,” the company said in a statement on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, nine months after the first train from Kyiv to Kherson arrived in the city after leaving the Ukrainian capital on Friday night, only possible with the withdrawal of Russian troops.

Ukrainian state railway network Ukrzaliznitsia reported that 200 passengers were traveling on the “Train to Victory” train, designed by Ukrainian artists. Tickets were sold as part of a fundraising campaign.


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