Nov 1 (Reuters) – Russian-backed authorities in Ukraine’s Kherson region said on Monday they would begin evacuating civilians from the eastern bank of the Dnipro river, repeating claims rejected by Kyiv that Ukraine had May prepare to attack the dam and flood the area. .
In a post on Telegram, Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-backed head of the region, which is partially held by Russian forces, said he was expanding the evacuation zone in the area and – for the first time – along the Dnipro river. asked the citizens on the East Bank. Banks to leave their homes.
Saldo said the new territory would cover an additional 15-kilometer (nine-mile) zone around the Dnipro River, which separates the Kherson region, which would include seven more settlements.
“With the possibility of the Ukrainian government using prohibited methods of warfare, as well as reports that Kyiv is preparing a major missile attack on the Kakhovka hydroelectric station, there is an immediate threat of flooding in the Kherson region,” Saldo said. said in a video message posted on Monday evening.
This could result in “mass destruction of urban infrastructure and human casualties,” he said.
“Given the situation, I have decided to expand the evacuation zone from Dnipro by 15 kilometers… This decision will make it possible to create a layered defense to repel Ukrainian attacks and protect civilians. “
Kyiv has denied that it has abandoned plans to attack the 30-meter (100-foot) high, 3.2-kilometer-long Kakhivka Dam and release a reservoir the size of the Great Salt Lake in southern Ukraine, prompting several Cities and villages have been flooded. At the beginning of the war, Russian forces took over.
Ukraine said repeated Russian claims that Ukraine was preparing an attack on the dam, which regulates the supply of water to the Crimean peninsula and the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, were a sign that Russia was considering a strike of its own. and blaming it on Kaif and his Western backers. .
Russia has been evacuating tens of thousands of civilians from the western bank of the Dnipro River in recent weeks in retaliation for Ukraine’s crackdown.
Saldo said Russian installed officials were offering citizens a one-time payment of 100,000 rubles ($1,628) to leave, and that Moscow was providing accommodation in other regions of Russia.
As recently as last week, some Russian-backed administrators in the region rejected the evacuation of civilians from the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.
President Vladimir Putin moved to annex Kherson after holding referendums in four Ukrainian regions last month that Kyiv and the West called fraudulent and illegal.
($1 = 61.43 rubles)
Reporting by Jack Cordell; Edited by Kim Coghill, Stephen Coates and John Harvey
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