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    Russia to evacuate Kherson residents as Ukraine advances

    KYIV, UKRAINE (AP) – In a sign that continuing and sustained Ukrainian military gains along the southern front are worrying the Kremlin, Russia is promising free accommodation to residents of the partially occupied Kherson region who want to evacuate to Russia.

    Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnullin made the announcement shortly after the Russia-backed leader of Kherson, one of four Ukrainian regions annexed by Moscow last month, asked the Kremlin to organise an evacuation from four cities in the region.

    “Cities of the Kherson region – Kherson and Nova Kakhovka, Hola Prystan and Chornobaivka – are subject to daily missile strikes,” Vladimir Saldo said in a video posted online on Thursday.

    “These missile strikes cause serious damage, first and foremost to the residents. Among targets missiles hit are hotels, residential buildings, markets – (places) where there are lots of civilians.”

    Saldo said a decision has been made to evacuate Kherson residents to the Russian regions of Rostov, Krasnodar and Stavropol, as well as the annexed Crimea.

    “I would like to ask you to help organise this process. We, residents of the Kherson region, of course know that Russia doesn’t abandon their own, and Russia always offers a hand,” Saldo said.

    His plea comes as Ukrainian forces push their counteroffensive into the southern Kherson region.

    A Ukrainian serviceman checks the trenches dug by Russian soldiers in a retaken area of Kherson region, Ukraine. PHOTO: AP
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