Appealing to Moscow for help in organising the evacuation process and saying “Russia is not abandoning its people”, Saldo urged residents in Kherson to “save themselves” by going to Russia for “leisure and study”.
Russia to Evacuate Civilians from Kherson As Ukrainian Forces Advance
Speaking on Thursday, Mr Saldo said many towns in the region – including the two major cities of Kherson and Nova Kakhovka – are now under daily rocket attacks by Ukrainian troops.
“Such strikes are causing serious damage,” he said, urging residents across the whole region, especially those on the west bank of the Dnieper river, to evacuate to Russia or Crimea.
Though Ukraine has rejected accusations that it is targeting its own civilians – with its troops having recently recaptured some areas of north-western Kherson and now advancing in on Kherson – Saldo’s call has been backed up by Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Marat Khusnullin, in a state televised message.
According to Khusnullin, who has special responsibility for southern Russia and Crimea, “The government took the decision to organise assistance for the departure of residents of the [Kherson] region to other regions of the country. We will provide everyone with free accommodation and everything necessary.”
The governor of Russia’s Rostov region, Vasily Golubev, has announced that the first group of civilians from Kherson would arrive on Friday into the region, adding that “The Rostov region will accept and accommodate everyone who wants to come to us from the Kherson region.”
With Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, using US-supplied Himars rocket systems among other weaponry to great effect, it has targeted key Russian-held military targets and threatened to cut off the bulk of the occupying forces on the west bank of the Dnieper river – which is known as Dnipro in Ukraine.
However, Ukraine's military has remained tight-lipped about its troop advancing in the key region bordering Crimea – which happens to be the southern Ukrainian peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.
Kherson is the only regional capital seized by Russian forces since Moscow's invasion began on 24 February.