As Ukrainian forces zeroed in on the southern city of Kherson, which has been held by Russian forces since the start of the war, the Kremlin-elected leader of Kherson province is urging citizens to “take your children and leave for Russia.”
Vladimir Saldo said on Thursday on Telegram Ukrainian missile attacks are causing suffering to civilians and damaging buildings, and he has asked the Kremlin to organize evacuations from four cities, including Kherson.
Saldo said Kyiv was retaliating against Kherson – one of four Ukrainian regions claimed by Moscow to have annexed – for voting to join Russia in an election widely discredited as shams last month. Ukraine has maintained that it does not target its own citizens.
“We suggested that all residents of the Kherson region, if so desired, move to other regions (Russia) … to protect themselves from the effects of missile attacks,” Saldo wrote.
Deputy Prime Minister Marat Khusnulin said later in the day that Russia would provide free accommodation to residents of the region who want to relocate.
A Ukrainian counteroffensive continues to push deep into Kherson province, although officials recently acknowledged that momentum has slowed as Russia reinforces its front lines.
US, Allies Boost Ukraine Air Defenses:Eight arrested in Crimean bridge bombing: Updates
Ukraine’s presidential office said 13 people were killed and 37 wounded in Russian attacks across Ukraine in the past 24 hours. Three were killed in the southern city of Mykolaiv when missile strikes destroyed an apartment building, but an 11-year-old boy was pulled from the rubble.
► NATO defense ministers gathered in Brussels for a second day of talks to assess the situation in Ukraine.
► The Air Force of Ukraine said this At least four Russian helicopters were destroyed 18 minutes on Wednesday in the southern part of the country.
► Ukraine’s military estimates that more than 63,000 Russian soldiers have been killed or wounded in the war. Russia has not released any figures, and Ukraine has not announced its own losses.
►The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, thanked Vladimir Putin for Russia’s support in hosting the upcoming Soccer World Cup starting November 20.
Russia hammers Kiev with Iranian drones
Russian bombs delivered by Iran-made drones hammered the Kyiv region on Thursday as the Ukrainian capital again suffered the deadly wrath of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The attack comes three days after a series of missile attacks hit the city for the first time since the early days of the war, when a Russian advance on Kiev was turned back by Ukrainian forces.
“Another kamikaze drone attack on critical infrastructure,” Deputy Head of the Presidential Office Kirill Tymoshenko said in a telegram. “The relevant services are already … documenting the results of the shooting. Do not neglect safety, stay in shelter during the alarm!”
The British Ministry of Defense said the low-flying drones were unlikely to provide strike options deep into Ukrainian territory, and many were destroyed before hitting their targets.
In the seven months since Russia’s invasion began, rocket and artillery fire on cities in the country’s south and east has become routine, but Kiev in north-central Ukraine has seen relative normalcy since March. Saturday’s explosion at a Russian-built Crimean bridge brought vehicular and rail traffic to a standstill, but that changed dramatically – and embarrassed Putin’s government. Missiles rained down on cities across Ukraine in a retaliatory attack on Monday.
The US and its allies have pledged to strengthen Ukraine’s air defenses.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned on Thursday that Russian President Vladimir Putin would be crossing a “very important line” if he ordered the use of nuclear weapons in Ukraine. NATO plans to hold its annual “Steadfast Noon” military deterrence exercise next week, and Russia is also planning a nuclear drill in the coming days. Stoltenberg was speaking after a meeting of NATO’s nuclear planning group held during a conference of defense ministers in Brussels.
Concerns have grown over Putin’s insistence that he will use any means necessary to defend what he considers Russian territory. The Kremlin, however, has dismissed nuclear weapons as a Western tool to justify the militarization of Ukraine.
The speaker of Russia’s lower parliament said more than 70 energy facilities in Ukraine had been bombed this week. He threatened a “very strong” response to future attacks by Ukraine, which has not claimed responsibility for the bridge bombing. As winter continues across the country, power outages can be significant.
“All organizers and perpetrators of terrorist attacks must be found; Those who oppose must be destroyed,” State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin wrote on Telegram.
The International Monetary Fund provided Ukraine with $1.3 billion in additional emergency financing for “budget priority needs,” Prime Minister Denis Schmiehl said Thursday. “Thank you to our partners for their unwavering support,” Schmihl said on Twitter.
The IMF has given $2.7 billion to Ukraine since the start of the Russian invasion. The fund will soon begin working with Ukraine “on creating a special new program that will start next year,” Schmihl said.
Britain said Thursday it would supply missiles for an advanced NASAM anti-aircraft system the Pentagon plans to send to Ukraine. Britain has provided hundreds of additional aerial drones for intelligence gathering and logistical support, as well as a further 18 howitzer artillery pieces.
UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace said, “These weapons will help Ukraine protect its skies from attacks and strengthen its overall missile defense alongside the US NASAMS.”
Contributed by: Associated Press