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Friday, March 31, 2023

Ukraine Accuses Russia of ‘Looting’, Occupying Kherson Homes Ahead of ‘Street Battles’

Kyiv has slammed Russia for its supposed evacuation plan and called it a forced deportation

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UKRAINE. Kyiv: Ukraine has accused Russian forces of pillaging empty, abandoned homes in the southern city of Kherson and occupying them in civilian clothes as operational bases to advance into street fighting in what both sides consider to be the most significant battles.

In anticipation of Ukrainian troops marching into Kherson and surrounding regions, Russia had ordered a widespread civilian evacuation mission to resist Ukrainian assaults. Russian forces first seized the city following President Putin’s “special military operation” in February.

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In a Monday update on the Kherson front, Ukrainian forces said Russian troops “disguised in civilian clothes, occupy the premises of civilians and strengthen positions inside for conducting street battles.”

Moreover, Russian forces were “involved in looting and theft from residents and infrastructure sites and are taking away equipment, food and vehicles to the Russian Federation.”

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Russian authorities did not respond to these allegations. Instead, Moscow denied abusing civilians.

Kherson, which was recently a part of Russia’s ‘referendums’ and was seized by Putin’s forces in late September, had a prewar population of nearly 300,000. Following the Russian invasion and the aftermath of persistent fighting in the region, both sides said that Kherson had been transformed into a ghost town, lonely and dark, with no power or water for over 48 hours.

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While Russian-installed officials blamed Ukrainian “sabotage”, Ukraine blamed Russia for dismantling 1.5 km of power lines.

Meanwhile, Kyiv has slammed Russia for its supposed evacuation plan and called it a forced deportation, a war crime against humanity. Moscow retorted, saying it was sending residents away for safety.

According to Ukrainian troops, nearly 100 disabled children were removed from a medical facility in Dnipriany in Kherson to Moscow on Monday. Meanwhile, elderly residents from nursing homes were being transferred to safer ground, and Russian troops began moving into those caregiving facilities.

Kherson is a strategic Russian-occupied territory on the west bank of the Dnipro River that bisects Ukraine. Ukraine has long had its eyes on Kherson; recapturing it would be the main priority in Ukraine’s counter-offensive measures that began in October.

Meanwhile, in an early Tuesday update, the Ukrainian military confirmed hits on a Russian anti-aircraft facility and Russian armour in the Beryslav district of the Kherson region. Additionally, 132 Russian military personnel were killed.

The Donetsk region, part of the industrial hub of Donbas, remains the prime “epicentre” of the conflict, with hundreds of Russians being killed on the front, Ukrainian President Zelensky said on Monday.

The diplomatic front has witnessed several deliberations in the last few days. White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre addressed that national security adviser Jake Sullivan was engaged in peace talks with senior Russian officials.

In a briefing, she said: “We reserve the right to speak directly at senior levels about issues of concern to the United States”.

The U.S. reiterated its “unflinching and unwavering” support for the Ukrainian cause despite the outcome of Tuesday’s midterm elections, she added.

President Zelensky once again urged Russia to seriously engage in “genuine” peace talks.

Also Read: Russia Signals Troop Withdrawal in Southern Ukraine, Kyiv Fears Surprise Trap

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