Up to 60,000 residents of Ukraine's Kherson region, currently under Russian control, will be evacuated within a week amid shelling on behalf of Kyiv, according to Russia-installed local authorities.
"The regional authorities will do everything to protect as many civilians as possible from the situation on the contact line and Ukrainian shelling," Vladimir Saldo, who was appointed head of the southern coastal region by Russian President Vladimir Putin, said in an interview with Russian TV channel Rossiya 24.
Saldo added that since Tuesday the process of evacuation, which started last week, was accelerated due to the threat of possible flooding if Ukraine’s military hits the Kakhovskaya Hydroelectric Power Plant.
Saldo said that intelligence shows that the Ukrainian army is amassing huge forces in neighboring Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih.
On Feb. 24, Russia started what it calls "a special military operation" in Ukraine. In recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have advanced a counteroffensive, while Moscow has called up more reservists and "joined" four Ukrainian regions following what the West denounced as "sham" referendums.