On Thursday, Russian occupation authorities in the Kherson region of southern Ukraine asked Moscow to evacuate civilians from that territory annexed by Russia in late September and the target of a counter-offensive of a Ukrainian army.
“We ask that all the inhabitants of the Kherson region, who want to protect themselves from (Ukrainian) missiles, can go to other Russian regions,” the head of the regional occupation administration, Vladimir Saldo, said on Telegram.
“Take your children and leave,” he urged in a speech on social networks.
Saldo called on Russia to provide the necessary “help” “to organize such a task” and stated that he had proposed that “first of all” the evacuation of residents of localities located on the banks of the Dnipro River, closest to the front line.
He said those residents would be taken to Russian regions closer to the Kherson region, citing the Crimean peninsula, annexed in 2014 by Moscow, and the Rostov, Krasnodar, and Stavropol regions in southern Russia.
The announcement came a day after Ukraine claimed to have retaken five localities in the Kherson region.
For several weeks, the Ukrainian army has been conducting a counteroffensive in that southern Ukrainian territory, annexed by Moscow and from which Kyiv troops claimed to have retaken more than 400 square kilometers in less than a week.
“Every day, towns in the Kherson region are subjected to missile shelling,” Saldo said Thursday. “These shellings cause serious damage to the inhabitants in the first place,” he lamented.
Kyiv’s defense system
Ukraine said Wednesday it had regained more territory in the south and welcomed a Western pledge to deliver air defense systems to Kyiv “as quickly as we can” after days of intense Russian missile attacks.
A U.S.-led group of about 50 countries held talks at NATO headquarters in Brussels and pledged to deliver new anti-missile systems.
Ukraine is recovering from Russian attacks that have left dozens dead and wounded, as well as villages and towns without electricity and hot water across the country.
As Ukraine faces a barrage of Russian air strikes, Britain said Thursday it would supply drones and, for the first time, rockets capable of shooting down cruise missiles.
“AMRAAM rockets … will be delivered in the coming weeks for use with the NASAMS air defense systems promised by the United States,” the British Ministry of Defense said in a statement.
In an interview, French President Emmanuel Macron also promised air defenses.
“We are going to deliver … radars, systems, and missiles to protect them from these attacks,” Macron said, adding that France was negotiating to send another six Caesar mobile artillery units.
It was not immediately clear whether the weapons pledged by Macron were part of the commitment made in Brussels or separately.
Macron also called on Russian President Vladimir Putin to resume negotiations with Kyiv.
“Today, first of all, Vladimir Putin must stop this war, respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine and return to the negotiating table,” Macron told France 2 broadcaster.
On Wednesday, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to condemn Russia’s annexation of parts of Ukraine, sending what U.S. President Joe Biden said was a “clear message” that Moscow could not erase a sovereign state.