Ukraine says Russia forces pillage, occupy Kherson homes ahead of battle

  • A power outage in the key city of Kyiv is aimed at re-occupation
  • Ukraine claims that Russia looted occupied Kherson
  • Russia strengthened the Kherson region before the war
  • Moscow denies heavy losses in units after the letter of protest
  • Ukraine: can talk to the future leader of Russia, not Putin

KYIV, Nov 8 (Reuters) – Ukraine has accused Russia of ransacking empty houses in the southern city of Kherson and filling them with plainclothes soldiers to prepare for street battles that both sides say will be one of the most important battles of the war.

In recent days, in anticipation of an attack on Ukraine, Russia has ordered the citizens of Kherson to retake the city, the only capital in the region that Moscow has captured since its invasion in February.

Both sides said Kherson, home to a pre-war population of about 300,000, was left cold and dark for the past 48 hours after electricity and water were cut off to surrounding areas.

Russian officials accused Ukraine of “sabotage” and said they were working to restore electricity. Ukrainian officials said the Russians had downed 1.5 kilometers of power lines and power may not be restored until Ukrainian forces retake the area.

Kyiv considered the evacuation of this area a forced deportation, a war crime. Moscow says it is evacuating residents for safety.

The Ukrainian army said on Monday that about 100 disabled children were transferred from a medical facility in Dnipro, Kherson region, to Moscow region. It is said that the patients of the old people’s home in Kakhovka were also transferred, and the Russian forces occupied these institutions.

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Kherson is located in the only pocket of Russian-controlled territory on the west bank of the Dnieper River, which bisects Ukraine. Its recapture was the main focus of Ukraine’s counter-offensive operations in the south, which accelerated from the beginning of October.

The situation inside Kherson could not be confirmed independently. Ukrainian forces on the line told Reuters they were expecting a tough fight against Russian forces, who were determined to exact a price in blood before withdrawing.

Ukraine’s military said Russian forces were “wearing civilian clothes, occupying civilian buildings and reinforcing internal positions to conduct street battles.”

Russian forces are “engaged in looting and theft of residents and infrastructure, and are taking equipment, food and vehicles into the Russian Federation,” according to Monday’s update.

Reuters asked for an explanation from the Russian authorities about the accusations of Ukraine. Moscow denies abusing citizens.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Monday that Donetsk region in the east remains the “center” of the conflict, where hundreds of Russians are being killed every day.

The cities of Bakhmut and Avdiivka are the centers of the most intense conflicts in the Donetsk region.

‘THEY CALL PEOPLE MEAT’

On the diplomatic front, White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan is holding secret talks with senior Russian officials aimed at reducing the risk of a full-scale war on Ukraine, a source familiar with the talks said Monday. more

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This source said that the negotiations have been going on for the last few months and are continuing. The Kremlin declined to comment on the talks, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The war took a heavy toll on the world economy and raised fears of a nuclear conflict.

White House press secretary Karin Jean-Pierre said at a White House briefing: “We have the right to speak directly at the highest levels about matters concerning the United States,” adding that the talks focused “only on risk reduction.”

He added that the United States’ support for Ukraine will be “unwavering and unwavering” regardless of the results of Tuesday’s congressional elections.

Ukraine is ready to negotiate an end to the war with Russia’s next leader, but not Vladimir Putin, an adviser to Ukraine’s president Mykhailo Podolyak has said, after the Washington Post reported that the United States had invited Kyiv to signal readiness for peace talks. keep it. Western support.

Podolyak wrote on Twitter: “Ukraine has never refused to negotiate. Our negotiating position is clear and transparent,” Podolyak said, adding that Russia should withdraw its forces from Ukraine first. “Is Putin ready? Obviously not.”

In his late-night address on Monday, Zelensky said it was important to get Russia to participate in “real” peace talks, describing the country as a destabilizing force on a number of issues, including climate change.

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Russia has lost all the territory it seized in northern Ukraine in the weeks after the February invasion, and has faced major setbacks in the east and south in recent months.

Putin responded to these losses by calling hundreds of thousands of reservists and declaring the seizure of occupied lands. He said on Monday that 50,000 new recruits are already fighting in combat units.

But as more troops are sent to the front and casualties mount with few fresh signs of gains, there is growing concern within Russia about the course of the war.

Russia’s Defense Ministry on Monday denied in a rare move that an elite unit suffered catastrophic casualties in a senseless attack, after releasing an open letter from surviving members of the Pacific Fleet’s 155th Brigade.

In a letter addressed to Oleg Kozhemyako, the unit’s base commander on the Pacific coast, the Marines said their unit had lost 300 men killed, wounded or missing and half its equipment in four days.

They accused the generals of “calling people meat” for receiving medals and awards.

Reporting by Tom Balmforth in Kyiv; Reuters Bureau; writing by Peter Graff, Mark Heinrich and Doina Chiaku; Edited by Alison Williams, Matthew Lewis and Bill Berkrot

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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