Updated Oct 19, 2022 - World

Russian commander says Kherson situation "difficult" as Ukraine advances

 In this picture taken on November 3, 2021 Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russia's Aerospace Forces, attends a meeting in Sochi.

Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russian forces, at a 2021 meeting in Sochi, Russia. Photo: Mikhail Metzel/Sputnik/AFP via Getty Images

The new commander of Russia's military in Ukraine said Tuesday residents in Russian-occupied areas of the Kherson region would be moved due to Ukrainian forces advancing.

Driving the news: "The enemy continually attempts to attack the positions of Russian troops" in the areas of Kupiansk and Lyman in the east and Mykolaiv-Krivyi Rih in the south, Gen. Sergei Surovikin told the state-owned Rossiya 24 television news channel, per a Reuters translation.

  • The situation in the region "can be described as tense," Surovikin said. "Our further plans and actions regarding the city of Kherson itself will depend on the emerging military-tactical situation. ... it is already very difficult today."

Meanwhile, Vladimir Saldo, the Russian-installed governor of areas of Kherson controlled by Russia's forces, confirmed in a Telegram post Tuesday the "organized transfer of the civilian population" in the region along the Dnipro River, where Ukrainian forces have been advancing in recent weeks.

Context: Kherson is one of four partially occupied regions Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed to have annexed last month.

  • Russian forces have occupied the southern port city of Kherson, the region's administrative center, since March.

The big picture: Surovikin was appointed commander of Russia's invading forces earlier this month after the Russian military suffered setbacks and Ukraine reclaimed territories. He's known for his brutality and was nicknamed "General Armageddon" while serving as an air force general in Syria.

Between the lines: While Russian forces have bombarded Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities in recent days, the U.K. Ministry of Defense said in an intelligence update Wednesday that "major elements of Russia's military leadership are increasingly dysfunctional."

  • "At the tactical level, there is almost certainly a worsening shortage of capable Russian junior officers to organise and lead newly mobilised reservists."

What we're watching: Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-installed deputy administrator of the Kherson region, said on Telegram late Tuesday: "In the very near future, the battle for Kherson will begin."

  • Civilians were "advised to leave the area of ​​the forthcoming fierce hostilities, if possible, so as not to expose themselves to unnecessary risk," Stremousov added.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

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