Ukrainian authorities have started to evacuate civilians from the newly liberated areas of Kherson and Mykolaiv for fear that the damage caused to infrastructure is too severe for people to withstand the hardships of winter, government officials announced on Monday.
Residents of the two southern regions of Ukraine, regularly bombed in recent months by Russian forces, were advised to move to safer areas in the central and western parts of the country, said Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine Iryna Vereshchuk, adding that the Government will provide “transportation, accommodation and medical assistance”.
The withdrawal of civilians has begun just over a week after Ukraine reconquered the city of Kherson and surrounding areas, on November 11th.
The liberation of the region from Russian occupation was seen as a great victory on the battlefield, but the need to removing the inhabitants shows that the country will still face many difficulties because of bombings and the damage they cause to energy infrastructure, especially during the coldest winter months.
The authorities installed by Russia in the region of Kherson also asked the population this Monday to abandon an area on the east bank of the Dnieper that Moscow still controls, claiming there is a “high level of military manoeuvres” in the district.
RUSSIA HAS INTENSIFIED AIR STRIKES
Since Ukraine regained the city of Kherson, the Russia has stepped up air strikes on the power grid and other infrastructure, causing widespread blackouts and leaving millions of Ukrainians without heat, power or water as the country begins to experience lower temperatures and snow.
According to the operator of the state power network, Ukrenergo, this Monday blackouts lasting four or more hours in 15 Ukrainian regions.
More than 40% of the country’s power installations were damaged by Russian missiles in recent weeks.
On Sunday, several bombings shook the region of Zaporizia, where the largest nuclear power plant in Europe is located, so the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) immediately requested “urgent measures to help prevent a nuclear accident” at the Russian-occupied facility.
Kiev and Moscow blame each other for the bombings in the region, after weeks of relative calm.
The area has been the scene of fighting since the Russian forces occupied the plant shortly after the invasion of Ukraine, raising fears of a nuclear accident.
Today, the Russian operator of the nuclear plant, Rosatom, admitted that there is a risk of a nuclear accident at the Zaporijia plant, with the director of that infrastructure, Alexei Likhachyov, adding that spoke to the IAEA overnight to reiterate Kiev’s blame for the situation.
“Apparently, Kiev considers a small nuclear incident acceptable,” Likhachyov said, arguing that “everything should be done so that no one thinks of invading the security of the nuclear power plant.”