The new commander of Russian forces in Ukraine has said the situation in the Kherson region has become “very difficult” as Ukrainian forces push ahead with an offensive to take back southern and eastern areas of the country, and that Moscow was preparing to evacuate civilians weeks after annexing the area.
Sergei Surovikin, a Russian air force general appointed on October 10 to lead the invasion, said the situation in Kherson was “very difficult” for both civilians and Russian soldiers.
“The Russian army will above all ensure the safe evacuation of the population” of Kherson, Surovikin told state television Rossiya 24.
“The enemy is not abandoning its attempts to attack Russian troop positions,” he added.
Russian forces in the region have been driven back by between 20 and 30 kilometres (13-20 miles) in the last few weeks and are at risk of being pinned against the western bank of the 2,200-kilometre-long (1,367-mile-long) Dnieper river that bisects Ukraine.
Surovikin said Russian positions in the towns of Kupiansk and Lyman in eastern Ukraine and the area of northern Kherson between Mykolaiv and Kryvyi Rih were under continuous attack.
“The situation in the area of the ‘Special Military Operation’ can be described as tense,” Surovikin told Rossiya 24 using Moscow’s official terminology for the February 24 invasion.