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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy announced on Saturday a mandatory evacuation of residents of the eastern Donetsk region amid heavy fighting in the ongoing war with Russia.
The president said: “The more people leave [the] In the Donetsk region now the less the Russian army will have time to kill. I noted that those who left would be compensated.
Zelenskyy also said in his speech that the hundreds of thousands of people still occupying combat zones in the greater Donbass region should also leave. The Donbass includes the regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.
“Many refuse to leave, but it still needs to be done,” he said. “If you have the opportunity, please talk to those who still remain in the Donbass combat zones. Please convince them that it is necessary to leave.”
According to Ukrainian media, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the evacuation had to take place before the onset of winter because natural gas reserves in the region had been destroyed.
But former US ambassador to Ukraine John Herbst said the evacuation may have more to do with the anticipation of fiercer fighting than fuel shortages.
“I don’t know why Zelenskyy made this call,” he said. “What I know is that there was heavy fighting in Donetsk. The Russians took [neighboring] Luhansk [oblast] several weeks ago. I expect more fierce fighting in Donetsk.”
The Ukrainian Army claimed earlier on Saturday that more than 100 Russian troops were killed and seven tanks were destroyed in Friday’s fighting in the Kherson region. The Kherson region is the center of Kyiv’s counter-offensive in the south and a crucial part of Moscow’s supply lines.
Ukraine’s Southern Command said rail traffic to Kherson on the Dnipro River had been disrupted, which could further impede the Russian military west of the river from reaching supplies in Crimea and the is.
Long-range missile systems supplied by the West have been used by Ukraine to inflict damage on three bridges over the Dnipro River in recent weeks, cutting off the Kherson region.
“Due to the fire that established control of the main transport links in occupied territory, it was established that traffic on the railway bridge crossing the Dnipro is not possible,” the southern command of the ISIS said. Ukraine in a statement.
Government of Kherson region Dmytro Butriy said Berislav district, which is across the river northwest of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power plant, was particularly damaged.
“In some villages, not a single man has remained intact, all infrastructure has been destroyed, people live in cellars,” he wrote on Telegram.
Butriy said fighting continued in many parts of the Kherson region.
Reuters contributed to this report.