Russia extends evacuation zone in Ukraine’s Kherson region

November 1 (Reuters) – Russian-appointed officials in Ukraine’s Kherson region said on Monday they would begin evacuating citizens from the eastern bank of the Dnieper river, echoing claims denied by Kiev that Ukraine may be preparing to attack the Kachovka dam and flood the region. .

The Russian-backed leader of the region, which is partially occupied by Russian forces, Vladimir Saldo, said in a telegram that he was expanding the evacuation zone in the region and for the first time asked civilians in the eastern part of the Dnieper River. for the bank to leave their home.

The new territory will include an additional 15-kilometer (nine-mile) zone around the Dnieper River that divides the Kherson region and include seven more settlements, Saldo said.

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“The possibility of the Ukrainian regime using prohibited methods of war, as well as the information that Kyiv is preparing a massive missile strike on the Kachovka hydroelectric power plant, there is an immediate danger that the Kherson region will be flooded,” Saldo said. said in a video message posted Monday night.

It could result in “mass destruction of civilian infrastructure and a humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.

“Given the situation, I have decided to expand the evacuation zone 15 kilometers from the Dnipro… the decision will allow the creation of a layered defense to repel Ukrainian attacks and protect the civilian population.”

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Kyiv has denied plans to attack the Kachovka Dam, a 30-meter-high, 3.2-kilometer-long facility, and open a reservoir the size of the Great Salt Lake in southern Ukraine, flooding towns and villages from which several Russian forces were seized at the start of the war.

Ukraine has said that repeated Russian claims that Ukraine is preparing to attack a dam that regulates water supplies to the annexed Crimean peninsula and the Zaporozhye nuclear power plant are a sign that Russia itself is considering an attack, which it blames on Kiev and its Western backers. .

Russia has evacuated tens of thousands of civilians from the western bank of the Dnieper River in recent weeks as part of a counteroffensive against Ukraine.

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Officials stationed in Russia are offering civilians one-time payments of 100,000 rubles ($1,628) to leave, and Moscow is providing housing in other Russian regions, Saldo said.

As recently as last week, some Russian-backed administrators in the region ruled out evacuating citizens from the eastern bank of the Dnieper River.

President Vladimir Putin decided to annex Kherson last month after holding referendums in four Ukrainian regions that Kyiv and the West have dismissed as fake and illegal.

($1 = 61.43 rubles)

Reporting by Jake Cordell; Edited by Kim Coghill, Stephen Coates and Jan Harvey

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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