Ukraine will begin voluntary evacuation of Kherson: Deputy Prime Minister | Russia-Ukraine War News

Ukraine will start evacuating people who want to leave the recently liberated southern city of Kherson and its surroundings, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk announced, citing infrastructure damage by Russian forces that had made life extremely difficult for the residents.

News of the evacuation came as Russian missiles were reported to have hit an oil depot in Kherson on Saturday night, authorities said, the first time a fuel storage facility had been attacked in the city since Russia He retired over a week ago.

Vereshchuk said on Saturday that several people had expressed a desire to get away from Kherson and the area around Mykolaiv, some 65 km (40 miles) to the northwest.

“This is possible in the next few days,” he told a televised news conference in Mykolaiv when asked when the evacuations from Kherson would start.

Vereshchuck said that the government had already made the necessary preparations for the evacuation. Among those who wanted to leave were the elderly and those who had been affected by Russian shelling, he said.

“This is just a voluntary evacuation. Currently, we are not talking about a forced evacuation,” Vereshchuk said.

“But even in the case of a voluntary evacuation, the state is responsible for transportation. People must be brought to the place where they will spend the winter, ”he said.

The government had several evacuation options, one of which was to use Mykolaiv as a transit point before sending people further west to safer parts of the country, he added.

In August, Vereshchuk said that Ukraine planned to expand the number of frontline districts where civilian evacuations would be mandatory, as those areas could be occupied and would also face heating problems during Ukraine’s winter months.

Two missiles hit a fuel depot in Kherson on Saturday, firefighters at the scene told the Associated Press news organization.

Anton Gerashchenko, a government adviser and former deputy minister of Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, posted a short video on Twitter apparently showing a thick plume of smoke after powerful explosions were reported in Kherson on Saturday.

“Russia continues its daily terror,” he wrote.

Ukrainian authorities accused Russian troops of destroying Kherson’s critical infrastructure before withdrawing earlier this month.

Local authorities also told the Associated Press that when Russian forces left the Kherson city area, they stole fire trucks and ambulances, with firefighters saying they were now looking for resources to respond to the missiles and other attacks.

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and other officials accused Russia of trying to destabilize the country by destroying power plants in an attempt to subdue the population and force millions of Ukrainians to flee west, creating a refugee crisis for the European Union.

Ukraine’s energy ministry said on Saturday that the country’s electricity supply was under control despite a wave of Russian attacks on power generation infrastructure.

Russian missile strikes have crippled almost half of Ukraine’s energy system and Kyiv authorities said on Friday a full shutdown of the capital’s power grid was possible.

Lviv city center in the dark and without power after critical civilian infrastructure was hit by a Russian missile.
A view shows Lviv city center without power after critical civilian infrastructure was targeted by Russian missile strikes in Ukraine on November 15, 2022. [Vladyslav Musiienko/Reuters]

“We assure you that the situation with the energy supply is difficult, but under control,” the Ministry of Energy said in a statement.

Authorities across the country have scheduled blackouts to aid repair efforts, the ministry said, urging families to cut their power consumption by at least 25 percent.

Maxim Timchenko, head of DTEK, the country’s largest private energy company, said the military, the energy industry and individual Ukrainians were working miracles to maintain supplies and people should not leave the country.

“That is why there is no need to leave Ukraine today,” it said in a company statement on Saturday.

Also on Saturday, the first train in nine months to travel from Kyiv to Kherson arrived in the city after leaving the Ukrainian capital on Friday night, a journey made possible only by the Russian withdrawal.

Ukraine’s state railway network, Ukrzaliznytsia, said 200 passengers were on board the train, dubbed the “Train to Victory”, which had been painted with eclectic designs by Ukrainian artists. The tickets were sold as part of a fundraising campaign.

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