The commander of Russian forces in Ukraine says the situation in the southern city of Kherson is “difficult” and residents are to be evacuated.
General Sergei Surovikin said Ukrainian troops using US Himars rockets were hitting the city’s infrastructure and housing. He spoke on Russian state TV.
“The Russian army will above all ensure the safe evacuation of the population” of Kherson, he said.
Kherson was the first big city to fall to the Russians, back in February. Ukrainian forces have been steadily retaking nearby territory for the past few weeks. They have pushed as far as 30 kilometres (19 miles) south along the Dnieper River (called Dnipro by Ukrainians), threatening to trap Russian troops.
“As a whole the situation in the special military operation zone can be described as tense,” the general said.
In a video statement, the Russian-appointed governor of Kherson, Vladimir Saldo, confirmed that Kherson civilians on the right bank of the Dnieper, in the path of the Ukrainian advance, were being evacuated.
Kherson is the only Ukrainian regional capital to have been captured by the Russians. The Kremlin now claims Kherson and three other Ukrainian regions to be part of Russia – a claim rejected internationally.
Gen Surovikin, who has a reputation for harsh methods, said Ukraine’s Himars salvoes had damaged Kherson’s Antonivsky Bridge and the Kakhovka hydroelectric dam, blocking traffic along those key arteries. That had created supply problems for essential services, namely food deliveries, water and electricity, he said.
He also said the Ukrainians were launching constant attacks across a wide front – in the areas of Kupiansk and Lyman in the east and, in the south, on the Mykolaiv-Krivyi Rih front.
In Syria the general oversaw Russian bombing raids that inflicted heavy civilian casualties. He also commanded troops accused of human rights abuses in Chechnya.
He was speaking on a day of further Russian drone and missile strikes on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, many of them targeting Ukraine’s electricity supply. Parts of Kyiv now have no power or running water.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said that 30% of Ukraine’s power stations had been destroyed in the past eight days.
- A BBC report