The Russian collaborators charged with governing the portion of Ukraine’s Kherson Oblast that is currently under Russian occupation have ordered some citizens to prepare to evacuate to Russia.
The Russian-appointed head of Ukraine’s Kherson region has announced that the civilian population will be evacuated from part of the region as he warned of an expected escalation of hostilities.
Vladimir Saldo on October 18 announced an “organized, gradual displacement” of civilians from four towns on the right bank of the Dnieper River.
“I made a difficult but correct decision to announce the organized transfer of the civilian population of the Berislav, Belozersky, Snigiryovsky, and Aleksandrovsky municipalities to the left bank of the Dnieper,” Saldo said, adding that “where the military operates, there is no place for civilians.”
In a video statement, Saldo accused Ukrainian forces of planning to destroy a major dam at the Nova Kakhovka hydroelectric power station.
The Russian military commander, Russian Aerospace Forces Commander, and “Special Military Operation” commander General Sergei Suvovikin, followed up with a statement that sounded less than confident about what would happen next.
Surovikin speaks: “Our plans in the city of Kherson will depend on the tactical military situation that is already very uneasy. We will seek to protect the lives of civilians and our service members. We will act in a timely manner, without excluding the most difficult decisions.” pic.twitter.com/9wUPUrcMVl
— Yaroslav Trofimov (@yarotrof) October 18, 2022
Just a note on terminology. Left and right banks refer to the orientation of the banks of a river as you are facing downstream. The river, in this scenario, is the Dneiper, and it runs from northeast to southwest.
On its face, the evacuation order seems bland. Four towns, who cares? But there is more at work. I could identify two of the towns, Snigiryovsky (top circle on the map) and Berislav (right circle). Most of the towns have Russian and Ukrainian names, and some placenames are used repeatedly in the same province.
CREDIT: Frontline graphic by Def Mon on Twitter
The evacuation of Berislav hints that the northeast salient occupied by the Russians is about to be abandoned and the defensive line shortened. This is a tactically sound move. However, the politics of abandoning territory in a province annexed just a couple of weeks ago may not sound all that sound.
My guess is that this is only the first of a wave of civilian evacuations to be ordered. All the bridges across the Dneipr have been cut for some weeks requiring all resupply to be done by barges or by pontoon bridges that have a toadstool-like life expectancy once they are discovered. In addition, the crippling of the Kerch Strait Bridge has severely reduced the flow of supplies from Russia. A civilian evacuation via a “humanitarian corridor” would let the Russians move a lot of equipment across the river by mixing it in with the refugee stream.
I don’t know what to make of the claim that the Ukrainians might demolish the Nova Khakova Dam. If that happens, the Russian positions on the left bank become untenable, and their barge/pontoon bridge effort will be a helluva lot more difficult because the left bank would be flooded.
— Liveuamap (@Liveuamap) October 18, 2022
The second part of the equation is that there would be tremendous repercussions for all of Crimea as that dam controls the Crimean water supply.
We’ll know a lot more as we see how this situation develops. So with that, I’ll leave you with these words of wisdom.
Zelensky’s counterattack on Kherson and Nikolaev has been a complete disaster. Total defeat for the Ukrainian side.
— Ian Miles Cheong (@stillgray) August 29, 2022