Nov 5, 2022 - World

Putin gives public support for civilian evacuation in Kherson

This photograph shows a school corridor in the Kherson region village of Arkhanhelske.

Aschool corridor in the Kherson region village of Arkhanhelske. Photo: Bulent Kilic/AFP via Getty Images

Russian President Vladimir Putin has endorsed civilian evacuations in the Kherson region as Russia seems to be preparing to retreat from the area, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: This is the first time Putin has publically endorsed evacuations from the city.

Details: Putin called on people to leave the area Friday, saying the region is dangerous and civilians there are at risk.

  • "Now, of course, those who live in Kherson should be removed from the zone of the most dangerous actions, because the civilian population should not suffer," Putin said in a speech to pro-Kremlin activists, per Reuters.

Yes, but: Ukraine officials caution that calls for evacuations could be a trap to put Ukrainian soldiers in harm's way, BBC News reports.

The big picture: Kherson has been occupied by Russia since the country's invasion of Ukraine began in February. Putin annexed the region in September.

  • Ukrainian forces have been mounting a counteroffensive for months trying to take back Kherson, Axios reports.

State of play: Ahead of the coming winter, Russia may be preparing to abandon the region and much of the territory on the West side of the Dnipro River, which would be "one of the biggest Russian retreats of the war," according to Reuters.

  • Moscow has already been helping people evacuate the area. Russian officials said in October civilians should use boat crossings to leave the area and travel deeper into Russian territory, the Associated Press reports.
  • Ukraine is bracing for a bloody battle in the coming weeks in the region.

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