The Moscow-installed authorities of the southern Ukrainian Kherson region said Thursday that around 15,000 people have been pulled from the territory that Russia claims to have annexed in the face of a Ukrainian advance.
“Around 15,000 people have listened to the (evacuation) recommendation of the leadership of the Kherson region,” a pro-Russian official, Kirill Stremousov, said on Telegram.
He encouraged people to cross over to the left bank of the Dnieper river to safety and posted a video of a column of buses.
Kherson’s Moscow-backed authorities announced the start of the so-called evacuations Wednesday, with Kyiv denouncing the measures as “deportations” of its civilians to Russia.
But Stremousov called on the people of Kherson to follow Moscow-backed evacuation instructions.
“Give the military a chance to do what they have to do,” he said, while claiming that the Russian army will not surrender Kherson.
“Remember, nobody is going to give up Kherson,” he added.
On Wednesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin introduced martial law in the four Ukrainian regions he claims to have annexed: Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Lugansk and Donetsk.