Ukrainians flee Kherson amid intensive Russian shelling

Belarus foreign minister ‘dies suddenly’, Russian state media reports

Ukrainians have streamed out of Kherson to flee Russian shelling just weeks after celebrating Ukraine’s recapture of the southern city.

Associated Press reported that a line of trucks, vans and cars – some towing trailers or ferrying out pets and other belongings – stretched a kilometre or more on the outskirts of Kherson on Saturday.

Days of intensive shelling by Russian forces prompted a bittersweet exodus: many civilians were happy that their city had been won back but lamented that they couldn’t stay. “It is sad that we are leaving our home,” said Yevhen Yankov, as a van he was in inched forward. Now we are free, but we have to leave, because there is shelling, and there are dead among the population.”

Poking her head out from the back, Svitlana Romanivna added: “We went through real hell. Our neighbourhood was burning, it was a nightmare. Everything was in flames.”


Emilie Fourrey, emergency project co-ordinator for aid group Doctors Without Borders in Ukraine, said an evacuation of 400 patients of Kherson’s psychiatric hospital, which is situated near both an electrical plant and the frontline, had begun on Thursday and was set to continue in the coming days.

Russia has ratcheted up its attacks on critical infrastructure after suffering battlefield setbacks.

There are growing fears Russia’s relentless targeting of Ukraine’s electricity grid will threaten the safety of the country’s nuclear power plants, in the wake of the unprecedented emergency shutdown on Wednesday.

Petro Kotin, the president of Ukraine nuclear power company Energoatom, said all safety mechanisms had worked as intended on Wednesday but two generators were damaged in the process.

Ukrainian authorities are gradually restoring power, aided by the reconnection of the country’s four nuclear plants, but millions of people are still without heat or electricity after the most devastating Russian air strikes of the war.

Russia kept up its onslaught on Ukrainian cities on Saturday with an attack on Dnipro which injured six people and destroyed seven houses, said the regional governor, Valentyn Reznichenko.

Thirty-two civilians have been killed in Kherson since November 9th, when Russian forces withdrew from the southern city they had occupied for eight months, the Kyiv Independent quoted Ukraine’s national police chief, Ihor Klymenko, as saying.

Since then, Russian troops have shelled Kherson frequently.

Ukraine accused the Kremlin of reviving the “genocidal” tactics of Josef Stalin as Kyiv commemorated a Soviet-era famine that killed millions of Ukrainians in the winter of 1932-33.

The Kremlin has sought to play down reports that a Russian-led security alliance of former Soviet countries is weakening in the wake of the war in Ukraine.

The Armenian prime minister, Nikol Pashinyan, called into question the effectiveness of the six-nation Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CTSO) at a summit this week.

On Sunday, Reuters reported that Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov had said attempts to break up CSTO had always existed but insisted that the alliance remained in high demand despite criticism from Armenia.

Elsewhere, Belarus’s long-time foreign minister, Vladimir Makei, “passed away suddenly”, the Russian state-run news agency Belta reported, without giving further detail.

Belarus has been an ally of Russia and a base over the border for the invasion of Ukraine. Mr Makei had been due to meet Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, in Minsk on Monday. – Guardian