Nov 1 (Reuters) – Russian-backed officials in Ukraine’s Kherson region said on Monday they would begin evacuating citizens from the east bank of the Dnipro River, a claim rejected by Kiev that Ukraine was preparing to attack the Khakovka dam and flood the region. .
In a post on Telegram, the head of the Russian-backed region, Vladimir Saldo, said he was extending the evacuation zone in the region and – for the first time – asked civilians on the eastern side of the Dnipro River. Banks to leave their homes.
The new area covers an additional 15-kilometer (nine-mile) zone around the Dnipro River, which divides Kherson region, and includes seven other settlements, Saldo said.
“The use of prohibited war tactics by the Ukrainian regime, as well as information that Kyiv is planning a major missile attack on the Khakovka hydroelectric station, is an urgent risk of flooding in the Kherson region,” he said in a video message posted Monday evening.
That could lead to “mass destruction of civilian infrastructure and humanitarian devastation,” he said.
“Taking into account the situation, I have decided to expand the evacuation zone to 15 kilometers from the Dnipro … The decision will allow to create a layered defense to repel Ukrainian attacks and protect civilians.”
Kyiv has denied plans to attack the 30-meter (100-foot) high and 3.2-kilometer-long Khakovka dam and release a reservoir the size of the Great Salt Lake across southern Ukraine, flooding many towns and villages. Early in the war, Russian forces were captured.
Ukraine has said repeated Russian claims that Ukraine is planning an attack on a dam that controls water supplies to the occupied Crimean peninsula are a sign that Russia itself intends to launch an attack and blames it on Kiev and its Western backers. .
Russia has been evacuating tens of thousands of civilians from the west bank of the Dnipro River in recent weeks as part of a counter-offensive in Ukraine.
Officials installed in Russia are offering civilians a one-time payment of 100,000 rubles ($1,628) to leave, and Moscow is offering housing in other Russian regions, Saldo said.
As of last week, some Russian-backed administrators in the region have decided not to evacuate their citizens from the eastern banks of the Dnipro River.
President Vladimir Putin moved Kherson to power last month after holding referendums in four Ukrainian regions that have been deemed fraudulent and illegitimate by Kiev and the West.
($1 = 61.43 rubles)
Reporting by Jake Cordell; Editing by Kim Coghill, Stephen Coates and Jan Harvey
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