Russian authorities advise civilians to leave Ukraine region

Zelensky accuses Russia of planning to blow up hydroelectric dam to cover retreat from Kherson – as Putin’s panicked puppets order all civilians in occupied city to evacuate ‘immediately’ ahead of expected Kyiv counteroffensive

  • President Zelensky said Russia planted explosives at the Nova Kakhovka dam 
  • He said destroying the dam in south Ukraine ‘would mean a large-scale disaster’ 
  • Kherson has been held by Russia since the early days of the war in Ukraine 

President Volodymyr Zelensky has accused Russia of trying to blow up a key dam as Russian puppet authorities in Ukraine told all residents in Kherson to leave ‘immediately’ ahead of an advance by Ukrainian troops.

Ukrainian President Zelensky said Russian troops planted explosives at the Nova Kakhovka dam at a massive reservoir in the south of country. 

He claimed Putin’s regime were planning to destroy the dam, and called on world leaders to say blowing it up would be responded to in ‘exactly the same as the use of weapons of mass destruction’. 

He added: ‘Now everyone in the world must act powerfully and quickly to prevent a new Russian terrorist attack.

‘Destroying the dam would mean a large-scale disaster.’ 

Zelensky’s warning came after Kremlin-backed governments in southern Ukraine urged civilians to move deeper into Russian-held territory as Ukrainian forces advance.

Ukrainian President Zelensky said world leaders should ‘act powerfully and quickly’ to prevent the dam being destroyed 

(File Photo) Russian troops patrol the Nova Kakhovka, which Ukraine claims has been packed with explosives

Evacuees from Kherson gather after arriving at the railway station in Dzhankoi, Crimea

Kherson has been held by Russia since the early days of the nearly 8-month-long war in Ukraine. The city is the capital one of four regions Vladimir Putin illegally annexed last month.

Thousands crowded over the river, many by boat to escape Kherson ahead of the Ukrainian advance.  

‘I really didn’t want to (leave), I’m still in work,’ one resident said. ‘We wanted to stay here in the region, but now we don’t know.’

The Russian-installed leader of Kherson said this week Russia was planning to move an estimated 10,000 residents a day from Kherson and that Russia was preparing to take in residents in anticipation of Ukraine’s counterattack.

Despite the latest warning, the occupation authorities invited people still in the city on Saturday to attend an ‘evening of Russian literature, music and art’ in Kherson’s Palace of Culture, with a book reading and orchestra playing.

On Friday, Ukrainian forces bombarded Russian positions across Kherson region, targeting pro-Kremlin forces’ resupply routes as they prepare to reclaim the city. 

Ukraine has retaken some villages in the region’s north since launching its counteroffensive in late August.

Russian-installed officials were reported as trying desperately to turn the city of Kherson into a fortress while attempting to relocate tens of thousands of residents.

The Kremlin poured as many as 2,000 draftees into the surrounding region to replenish losses and strengthen front-line units, according to the Ukrainian army’s general staff.

The wide Dnieper River figures as a major factor in the fighting, making it hard for Russia to supply its troops defending the city of Kherson and nearby areas on the west bank after relentless Ukrainian strikes rendered the main crossings unusable.

Taking control of Kherson has allowed Russia to resume fresh water supplies from the Dnieper to Crimea, which were cut by Ukraine after Moscow’s annexation of the Black Sea peninsula. 

Tens of thousands are being told to flee Kherson ahead of an expected Ukrainian advance  

Russia has been targeting Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in recent weeks 

Firefighters tackle a blaze started by a Russia missile strike at a power station in Rivne 

A Ukrainian soldier sits in shelter as he prepare fire the Russian positions with the mortar in Bakhmut, Donetsk region

The dam upstream from Kherson city is a key source of energy for the southern region. Ukraine and Russia accused each other of trying to blow it up to flood the region.

A Russia-installed official estimated Saturday that around 25,000 people from across the region had made their way over the Dnieper. In a Telegram post, Kirill Stremousov claimed that civilians were relocating willingly.

‘People are actively moving because today the priority is life. We do not drag anyone anywhere,’ he said, adding that some residents could be waiting for the Ukrainian army to reclaim the city.

Ukrainian and Western officials have expressed concern about potential forced transfers of residents to Russia or Russian-occupied territory.

Ukrainian officials urged Kherson residents to resist attempts to relocate them, with one local official alleging Moscow wanted to take civilians hostage and use them as human shields.

Elsewhere in the invaded country, hundreds of thousands of people in central and western Ukraine woke up on Saturday to power outages and periodic bursts of gunfire. In its latest war tactic, Russia has intensified strikes on power stations, water supply systems and other key infrastructure across the country.

Ukraine’s air force said in a statement Saturday that Russia had launched ‘a massive missile attack’ targeting ‘critical infrastructure,’ adding that it had downed 18 out of 33 cruise missiles launched from the air and sea.

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy later said Russia had launched 36 missiles, most of which were shot down.

‘Those treacherous blows on critically important facilities are characteristic tactics of terrorists,’ Zelenskyy said. ‘The world can and must stop this terror.’

Air raid sirens blared across Ukraine twice by early afternoon, sending residents fleeing into shelters as Ukrainian air defense tried to shoot down explosive drones and incoming missiles.

‘Several rockets’ targeting Ukraine’s capital were shot down Saturday morning, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said on the Telegram messaging service.

The president’s office said in its morning update that five suicide drones were downed in the central Cherkasy region southeast of Kyiv. Similar reports came from the governors of six western and central provinces, as well as of the southern Odesa region on the Black Sea.

Ukraine’s top diplomat said the day’s attacks proved Ukraine needed new Western-reinforced air defense systems ‘without a minute of delay.’

‘Air defense saves lives,’ Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on Twitter.

Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office, said on Telegram that almost 1.4 million households lost power as a result of the strikes. He said some 672,000 homes in the western Khmelnytskyi region were affected and another 242,000 suffered outages in the Cherkasy region.

Most of the western city of Khmelnytskyi, which straddles the Bug River and had a pre-war population of 275,000, was left with no electricity, shortly after local media reported several loud explosions.

In a social media post on Saturday, the city council urged local residents to store water ‘in case it´s also gone within an hour.’

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