The Russian-installed leader of Ukraine’s southern Kherson region, Vladimir Saldo, has called on civilians to evacuate, citing daily rocket attacks by advancing Ukrainian forces.
He urged them to “save themselves” by going to Russia for “leisure and study”, and asked for Moscow’s help.
The call was later echoed by Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin in a message on state television.
Ukraine rejects accusations that it targets its own civilians.
Its troops have recently retaken some areas of north-western Kherson, closing in on the regional capital.
“The government took the decision to organise assistance for the departure of residents of the [Kherson] region to other regions of the country,” Mr Khusnullin said.
“We will provide everyone with free accommodation and everything necessary.”
Among other weaponry, Kyiv has been using US-supplied Himars rocket systems to great effect, targeting key Russian-held military targets and threatening to cut off the bulk of the…