Russia orders immediate evacuation from occupied Kherson
Russian authorities ordered residents of the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson to leave “immediately” Saturday ahead of a potential Ukrainian advance to reclaim the area, the Associated Press reports.
Why it matters: Kherson has been occupied by Russia since the early days of its invasion of Ukraine in February and is a part of a region that was annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in September.
Driving the news: The pro-Russia administration in the city called on civilians to use boat crossings to head deeper into Russian territory, warning there could be a threat of shelling and terror attacks in Kherson, AP reports.
- Ukrainian officials, though, have told citizens to resist any attempts for relocation, saying Russia might use them as human shields in the conflict.
State of play: Putin declared martial law Wednesday in the four regions annexed by Russia earlier this month, including Kherson, per the New York Times.
- The decision allowed Russia to impose more restrictions as it looked to hold off Ukraine's counteroffensive in the region.
- Last week, the new commander of Russia's military in Ukraine said residents in Russian-occupied areas of the Kherson region would be moved due to Ukrainian forces advancing, Axios' Rebecca Falconer writes.
The big picture: Ukrainian forces launched a major counter-offensive to take back Kherson in August, Axios' Dave Lawler writes.
- Ukrainian officials hint at the offensive in Kherson back in the summer months. Russia reportedly doubled its force in the region to prepare, according to Poland-based firm Rochan Consulting.
- Russia has since been suffering setbacks against Ukraine's counter-offensive.
Go deeper: Russian commander says Kherson situation "difficult" as Ukraine advances