Nov 1 (Reuters) – Russia-installed officials in Ukraine’s Kherson region said on Monday they would begin evacuating citizens from the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, repeating allegations rejected by Kyiv that Ukraine may be preparing to attack the Kakhovka Dam and flood the area. .
In a Telegram post, Vladimir Saldo, head of the Russian-backed region, partially occupied by Russian forces, said he was expanding an evacuation zone in the region and, for the first time, asked civilians on the eastern Dnipro River. Bank to leave their homes.
Saldo said the new area would cover an additional 15 kilometers (nine miles) around the Dnipro River, which divides the Kherson region, to include seven more settlements.
“Due to the possibility of the Ukrainian regime’s use of prohibited methods of warfare, as well as information that Kyiv is preparing a massive missile strike on the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, there is an immediate danger of flooding the Kherson region,” Saldo said in a video message published Monday evening.
This could lead to “massive destruction of civilian infrastructure and a humanitarian catastrophe,” he said.
“Given the situation, I decided to expand the evacuation zone by 15 kilometers from Dnipro … The decision will make it possible to create a multi-layered defense to repel Ukrainian attacks and protect civilians.”
Kyiv denied it was planning to attack the Kakhovka Dam, a 30-meter (100 feet) 3.2-kilometre-high facility, and launch a reservoir the size of Salt Lake across southern Ukraine, flooding towns and villages, many of which hijacked Russian forces at the start of the war.
Ukraine said repeated Russian allegations that Ukraine was preparing an attack on the dam, which regulates water supplies to annexed Crimea and the nuclear power plant in Zaporizhzhya, were a sign that Russia itself was contemplating an attack and blamed Kyiv and its Western backers. .
Russia has evacuated tens of thousands of civilians from the western bank of the Dnipro River in recent weeks, amid an advancing Ukrainian counter-offensive.
Saldo said Russian officials are offering civilians a one-time payment of 100,000 rubles ($1,628) to leave, and that Moscow is providing housing in other regions of Russia.
Last week, some Russian-backed officials in the region ruled out evacuating citizens from the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.
President Vladimir Putin moved to annex Kherson last month after holding referendums in four Ukrainian regions that Kyiv and the West described as sham and illegal.
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Reporting by Jake Cordell. Editing by Kim Coogle, Stephen Coates, and Jean Harvey
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