As Ukrainian forces press on with an offensive to retake the country’s southern and eastern regions, the new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine stated that the situation in the Kherson region has grown “very difficult” and that Moscow was preparing to evacuate civilians weeks after annexing the region.
General Sergei Surovikin, commander of the Russian air force, who was chosen on October 10 to oversee the invasion, described the circumstances in Kherson as “extremely tough” for both Russian forces and local residents.
According to Surovikin, “the Russian army will above all secure the safe evacuation of the population” of Kherson.
He continued, “The adversary is not giving up on its attempts to attack Russian force positions.
Russian soldiers in the area have recently been pushed back between 20 and 30 kilometres (13-20 miles), and they now run the risk of being pinned against the western bank of the Dnieper river, which bisects Ukraine over 2,200 kilometres (1,367 miles).
According to Surovikin, attacks were ongoing on Russian positions in the eastern Ukrainian towns of Kupiansk and Lyman, as well as in the region of northern Kherson between Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih.
“The situation in the area of the ‘Special Military Operation’ can be described as tense,” Surovikin told Rossiya 24 using Moscow’s official terminology for the February 24 invasion.
The most crucial strategically, Kherson is one of the four Ukrainian regions that Russia claims to have annexed. It controls the mouth of the Dnieper as well as the sole land access point to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia captured in 2014.
Putin announced the annexations of Kherson and Zaporizhia in the south, as well as the eastern border provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk, which together make up the industrial region known as the Donbas. These annexations followed the staging of referendums in September that Ukraine and its allies claimed were illegal and coercive.
No place for civilians
The Kherson region’s Kremlin-installed leader, Vladimir Saldo, stated that the authorities had chosen to evacuate certain inhabitants due to the possibility of an attack by the Ukrainian military.
Saldo stated in a video statement that “the Ukrainian side is gearing up forces for a large-scale offensive.” He claimed that the Russian military was getting ready to repel the onslaught and that “civilians have no place where the military operations. Allow the Russian army to complete its mission.
Although Kiev has charged Moscow’s forces with war crimes, both Ukraine and Russia have denied targeting civilians.
Surovikin gave the impression of acknowledging the threat posed by Ukrainian forces moving closer to Kherson, which Russia had mostly unchallenged in the early stages of the invasion.