Gen. Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, told reporters in Moscow on Tuesday that the situation in the southern Kherson region was “very difficult,” and that civilians from some areas should be evacuated ahead of an expected Ukrainian offensive.
Surovikin alleged that Ukraine planned to attack infrastructure, including a dam at a hydroelectric plant.
“Therefore, first of all, the Russian army will ensure the safe, already announced departure of the population under the relocation program being prepared by the Russian government,” Surovikin said.
As for the city of Kherson, he said, “I will say this again: It is already very difficult as of today.”
It was one of the clearest acknowledgments yet by Russia that it was evacuating civilians in occupied territories because of advancing Ukrainian troops. Kherson is one of four regions illegally annexed by Russia last month.
Regional head Vladimir Saldo said Tuesday that residents of Berislav, Belozersky, Snigiryovsky and Alexandrovsky were to be moved across the Dnipro River, away from Russian troops building “large-scale defensive fortifications.”
Saldo urged residents to stay calm and said they would “remain under the reliable protection of the Russian army.”
On Friday, too, Saldo had urged Kherson residents to evacuate to Russia. Russian authorities promised free travel and accommodations to those who left. Russian-backed officials have said evacuations from occupied territories are voluntary. In many cases, the only route out is to Russia.
— Ukraine’s power, water infrastructure pounded by Russian attacks
— Winter is coming: Ukrainians dig in for brutal season
— EXPLAINER: Killer drones vie for supremacy over Ukraine
— Ukrainian resilience persists amid Russian barrages
— NATO begins nuclear exercises amid Russia’s war
— EU approves Ukraine training mission
Russian-installed officials in the southern region of Kherson, one of four regions that Moscow illegally annexed last month, announced Tuesday there would be an “organized transfer of civilians” out of four towns ahead of an expected Ukrainian offensive.
Regional head Vladimir Saldo urged calm and said the Kherson residents would “remain under the reliable protection of the Russian army.”
But he said the Russian army was building “large-scale defensive fortifications,” and cited particular danger from flooding from a dam release. Residents of Berislav, Belozersky, Snigiryovsky and Alexandrovsky were to be moved across the Dnieper River, away from the fighting, he said.
Ukrainians troops have been pushing deeper into Kherson, and on Friday, Saldo had urged residents to evacuate to Russia. Russian authorities have promised free travel and accommodations to those who left.
The evacuation was called “voluntary” but there was no option presented to evacuate to Ukrainian-held territory.
UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is appealing for $180.4 million for Ukraine “to strengthen the country’s capacity for food storage, testing and certifications, which are necessary for export at border facilities.”
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Tuesday that FAO has mobilized $79.7 million, leaving a gap of $100.7 million, “which is urgently needed to support households in rural areas during the winter.”
According to the government, Ukraine exported 12.9 million tons of cereals, legumes and flour in the 2022-23 marketing year, compared to 20 million tons last year, Dujarric said. More than 7.8 million tons of this grain and foodstuff were exported as a result of the July deal involving the U.N., Russia and Ukraine that has enabled Kyiv’s resumption of grain exports from three Black Sea ports, he said.
Dujarric said FAO has also distributed more than 3,600 tons of wheat seeds to small-scale farmers and rural households, has also delivered cash assistance to over 1,000 rural households and is aiming to reach over 4,800 households in Ukraine — about 10,000 people — in the coming months.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s top diplomat wants his country to sever diplomatic relations with Iran over its sale of so-called suicide drones to Russia.
Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said Tuesday that Ukraine wouldn’t tolerate Iran’s “meanness and lies” on the issue.
The Iranian drones are precise, small, can effectively penetrate air defenses when fired in groups and are cheap at around $20,000 each. Moscow has used them extensively in recent days in its war against Ukraine, especially against civilian targets in Ukrainian cities.
“After Iran has become an accomplice in Russia’s aggression and crimes on our territory, we will take a clear and honest stand,” Kuleba said, adding that he advised President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to break off ties with Tehran.
Ukraine’s military intelligence chief, Kyrylo Budanov, said that after Iran provided Russia with a first batch of 1,750 drones, Moscow has placed orders for more.
LONDON — A Western official, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence, says Russia has clearly changed tactics since the Oct. 8 attack on its prized Kerch Bridge to annexed Crimea.
“Russia continues a trend of long range strikes, which are more causing civilian casualties than degrading Ukraine’s military. … It is increasingly evident that Russia is pursuing a deliberate strategy of attempting to destroy Ukraine’s electricity network,” the official said.
The official said Iranian-made drones “are playing an increasingly significant role, although we can see that Ukraine is effectively neutralizing many of them before they hit their targets. We continue to monitor closely whether Iran is extending its military support to include additional types of weapons.”
— By Jill Lawless
TALLINN, Estonia — Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur said the government approved a winter aid package for Ukraine last week.
“Estonia will help Ukraine with winter goods, winter equipment, clothing, tents, generators,” Pevkur said at a German Marshall Fund event in Washington on Tuesday.
KYIV, Ukraine — A senior Ukrainian official says Russian attacks have damaged more than 400 infrastructure targets across Ukraine since early last week.
The Minister for Communities and Territories Development of Ukraine, Oleksii Chernyshov, said Tuesday that Russian missiles and Iranian-made drones have struck 408 Ukrainian targets since Oct. 10.
The targets included 45 energy facilities. He said that more than 180 civilian buildings were also struck.
Chernyshov insisted that Ukrainians will not be cowed by Moscow’s onslaught. He said that “such terrorist actions of the aggressor mobilize and harden us even more.”
HELSINKI — Estonia’s Parliament has adopted with unanimous support a resolution declaring neighboring Russia a terrorist regime and condemns Moscow’s annexation of Ukrainian territory.
Estonia’s 101-seat Riigikogu legislature voted Tuesday on the resolution with 88 lawmakers in favor and none against.
In the statement, the Parliament strongly condemned the military actions of the Russia against Ukraine and the illegal annexation of the territories conquered during the aggression.
It declared that Estonia will never recognize the violation of the territorial integrity of Ukraine through aggressions and sham referendums.
MOSCOW — The Kremlin is refusing to confirm that the Russian military is using Iranian drones in its attacks on Ukraine.
Asked Tuesday whether Russia is using them to strike Ukrainian targets, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov responded: “We don’t have such information.”
Speaking in a conference call with reporters, he emphasized that “Russian equipment with Russian names is being used.”
The Iranian Shahed drones reportedly have been rebranded Geran-2 by Russia and used extensively to carry out strikes across Ukraine.
They are often called suicide drones because they slam into targets and explode. Analysts say Moscow’s plan is to terrorize Ukraine’s civilian population with the drones.
KYIV, Ukraine — Officials say two people have been killed in Russian missile attacks on Kyiv.
The Kyiv City Prosecutor’s Office said the fatalities occurred Tuesday morning as Moscow’s forces targeted the capital’s energy facilities.
The attacks left some 50,000 people in Kyiv without power, according to Antonina Antosha, spokesperson for the DTEK group, which operates of the affected infrastructure.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s president says that over the past week Russian attacks have knocked out 30% of his country’s power plants.
President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in a tweet on Tuesday that the strikes have caused “massive blackouts across the country.”
Russian missiles have taken aim at Ukraine’s power grid since Oct. 10, in an apparent bid to deny Ukrainians heating in the approaching winter and eroding civilian morale.
Moscow has also been bombarding Ukrainian cities with Iranian-made drones that have smashed into apartment blocks.
The Institute for the Study of War think tank, in Washington, that Moscow is “prioritizing creating psychological terror effects on Ukraine over achieving tangible battlefield effects” amid Ukraine’s recent counteroffensive.
BERLIN — Estonia’s foreign minister says that sanctions against Russia still haven’t gone far enough.
European Union countries so far have approved several packages of sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine.
Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said Tuesday that the point of sanctions is to raise pressure to end the war, and the only person who can end the war at present is Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He argued that “as we have not reached that decision point, it means the sanctions have not reached the needed altitude.”
He didn’t specify what further sanctions should be imposed.
KYIV, Ukraine — Russian forces are again peppering Ukraine with missile and drone attacks, mostly targeting energy facilities as winter approaches.
Moscow’s attacks during the night and into Tuesday morning mostly concentrated on cities in the south and east of Ukraine, which Russia invaded almost eight months ago.
Numerous explosions were heard in the eastern city of Kharkiv, especially in its industrial area south of the city center.
Oleh Syniehubov, head of the Kharkiv regional administration, wrote on Telegram that eight rockets were fired from the nearby Russian city of Belgorod. He said there were no injuries.
Russia also shelled the southern city of Mykolaiv with S-300 missiles, killing a man whose body was found in the debris of a two-story building, according to Regional Governor Vitalii Kim. Moscow’s forces also launched Iranian-made drones against the city, with Ukraine shooting down five of them, Operational Command South said.
In the southeast city of Dnipro, an energy facility was hit twice and severely damaged, the deputy head of the president’s office, Kyrylo Tymoshenko, said.
In Kyiv, an energy facility was hit three times. In Zhytomyr, 140 kilometers (87 miles) west of the capital, another energy facility was struck.
In the Zaporizhzhia region, so-called suicide drones caused a fire at an infrastructure facility.
WASHINGTON — A senior U.S. intelligence official says Russia has been using up its stock of munitions “at an unsustainable rate.”
Avril Haines, the U.S. director of national intelligence, said late Monday that Russian forces face a major supply shortage, especially of precision weapons such as cruise missiles.
Moscow is being forced to turn to countries such as Iran and North Korea for supplies and equipment, including UAVs, artillery shells and rockets.
International sanctions and export controls slapped on Russia are exposing its technological weaknesses, Haines said.
KYIV, Ukraine — Russians forces have abducted two more employees of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.
State nuclear operator Energoatom wrote on its Telegram channel that two people were detained and taken to an unknown location: the head of the information technology service Oleh Kostiukov and the assistant general director of the station Oleh Osheka.
At the beginning of October, another person, the deputy general director for personal Valeriі Martyniuk, was abducted, and his whereabouts are still unknown.
The first one among top management of the plant to be seized was the plant’s director, Ihor Murashov. He was blindfolded by Russian forces on his way home from work, then released in early October after being forced to make false statements on camera.
Ukrainian technicians have continued running the plant after it was seized by Russian troops.
KYIV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy denounced a wave of Russian drone attacks and strongly urged the country’s allies to provide it with air defense weapons.
“To guarantee the protection of our skies and reduce the possibilities for Russian terrorists to zero, we need much more air defense systems and more missiles for those systems,” he said in a televised address to the nation late Monday. “This is not only in Ukraine’s interests. The less opportunities for terror Russia has, the sooner this war ends.”
Explosives-laden suicide drones have struck Ukraine’s capital, setting buildings ablaze and tearing a hole in one of them. Authorities said four people died.
“Russia doesn’t have any chance on the battlefield, and it tries to compensate for its military defeats with terror,” Zelesnkyy said. “Why this terror? To put pressure on us, on Europe, on the entire world.”