Russia receives people fleeing Russian-controlled areas in Kherson, Ukraine

LONDON (Reuters) – A Russian region bordering Ukraine said it was preparing to take in refugees from the Russian-controlled part of Ukraine’s Kherson region, after its Russia-appointed leader suggested on Thursday that residents leave for safety as Ukrainian forces advance. .

Most of the Kherson region was captured in the early days of the Russian conquest as troops were sent from neighboring Crimea. It is one of four partially occupied Ukrainian regions declared by Russia last month in a move that was overwhelmingly condemned on Wednesday by the United Nations General Assembly.

However, since August it has been the scene of a significant advance by the Ukrainian forces.

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In a video statement on Telegram, Vladimir Saldo publicly asked for government assistance in moving civilians to safer areas of Russia.

“Every day, the cities of the Kherson region are subjected to missile attacks,” Saldo said.

“As such, the Kherson leadership decided to give Kherson families the option to travel to other regions of the Russian Federation for rest and study,” he said, adding that people should “leave with their children.”

He said that the proposal applies primarily to residents on the western bank of the Dnipro River – an area that includes the regional capital Kherson.

Locals visit a street market during the conflict between Ukraine and Russia in the Russian-controlled city of Kherson, Ukraine on July 26, 2022. REUTERS/Alexander Ermoshenko

“But at the same time, we suggested that all residents of the Kherson region, if there is such a desire, to protect themselves from the consequences of missile strikes, go to other regions,” he added.

The TASS news agency quoted the governor of Russia’s Rostov region, Vasily Golubev, as saying that the first group of people from Kherson will arrive there on Friday.

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“The Rostov region will accept and accommodate everyone who wants to come to us from the Kherson region,” he said.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khosnolin said that those who leave Kherson will be provided with housing and necessities for free – and if they decide to stay outside Kherson permanently, housing will be provided.

Kyiv and the West have decried Russia’s annexation of the four regions as illegal as the annexation of Crimea, which Russia seized in 2014. At the United Nations General Assembly, 143 out of 193 countries condemned it in a vote on Wednesday.

Ukrainian authorities say hundreds of thousands of Kherson residents have fled, mostly to uninhabited areas of Ukraine, including half of the regional capital’s pre-war population.

Any major territorial losses in Kherson will limit Russia’s access to Crimea further south, which Kyiv has been aspiring to return to since 2014.

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Reporting by Reuters. Editing by Kevin Levy, Mark Trevelyan and Sandra Mahler

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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