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Ukraine says Russian troops loot, occupy Kherson homes as battle looms


KYIV: Ukraine on Monday accused Russia of looting empty houses in the southern city of Kherson and seized them with troops in civilian clothes to prepare for street fighting in what both sides predicted would be one of the most important battles of the war.
In recent days, Russia has ordered civilians to leave Kherson as a precaution Ukrainians attack to retake the city, the only regional capital that Moscow has captured since the invasion in February.
Kherson, with a population of nearly 300,000 before the war, became cold and dark after power and water were cut off in the surrounding area for the past 48 hours, both sides said.
Russian-installed officials blamed Ukraine’s “sabotage” and said they were working to restore power. Ukrainian officials say the Russians have dismantled 1.5 kilometers of power lines and that electricity may not return until Ukrainian forces recapture the area.
Kyiv has described the evacuation from the area as an act of forced deportation, a war crime. Moscow says it is moving people elsewhere for safety.
The city is located in the only Russian-held territory on the west bank of the Dnipro River, which divides Ukraine. Recapturing it is the main focus of Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south, which has accelerated since early October.
The situation inside Kherson could not be independently confirmed. Ukrainian forces on the nearby front lines have told Reuters in recent days that they expect a tough fight against Russian troops, who cannot hold the city but are determined to pay the price in blood before was forced to withdraw.
“While Kherson residents are being forcibly evicted from their homes, talking about ‘evacuating’, deserted military officers and the FSB are doing what they love most – robbing their homes,” she said. President of Ukraine Mykhailo Podolyak tweeted on Monday. “Robbers from those they came to ‘protect’ – the best illustration of the ‘Russian world’.”
The Ukrainian military said in an overnight update that Russian forces, “disguised in civilian clothing, seized civilian facilities and reinforced positions inside to wage battles on the road.” city.” It also said Russian journalists were preparing to show videos accusing Ukraine of injuring civilians.
Reuters is seeking comment from Russian authorities on the Ukraine allegations.
Moscow has sent thousands of troops to strengthen the area in recent months but recent days have hinted that it may withdraw. The deputy head of the Russian-installed administration, Kirill Stremousov, last week said Russia was likely to withdraw its troops across the river, despite silence from his superiors in Moscow.
Quiet for Monday
Elsewhere in Ukraine, Monday morning passed without a salvo of Russian missiles, a rare relatively quiet start to the work week that has become synonymous across Ukraine with fresh air strikes by the Russia in the past month.
Russia has dropped missiles on Ukrainian civilian infrastructure targets, acknowledging their goal is to destroy Ukraine’s energy system, with barrages of attacks often occurring during rush hour on Monday morning. Two since October 10.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy warned Ukrainians overnight to prepare for more attacks.
Ukraine’s grid operator told consumers to prepare for more blackouts in Kyiv and other regions on Monday as it seeks to reduce stress on damaged energy infrastructure. damaged by Russian missile and drone attacks.
Power outages are becoming the norm in the capital of 3 million people after a wave of Russian attacks on power facilities that damaged 40% of energy infrastructure in the past month.
Grid operator Ukrenergo said: “The country’s electricity grid has not yet been able to resume operation after the terrorist attack in Russia. In some areas, we had to cut power to avoid overloading high infrastructure. pressure”.
The scheduled closure from 6am local time through the end of the day will affect Kyiv and the Chernihiv, Cherkasy, Zhytomyr, Sumy, Kharkiv and Poltava regions.
Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address that more than 4.5 million consumers are without electricity.
Both The White House and the Kremlin declined to comment on a Wall Street Journal report that US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan held talks with aides to Russian President Vladimir Putinto reduce the risk of the war in Ukraine spilling over or escalating into a nuclear conflict.
The Wall Street Journal report cited an article in the Washington Post that US officials had specifically encouraged Kyiv to show goodwill to negotiate with Russia to maintain international support.
Zelenskiy decided that Ukraine could not negotiate with Russia as long as Putin was president, after Putin announced the annexation of Ukrainian territory at the end of September. Moscow blamed Ukraine for the lack of peace talks. peace, but also said it would not negotiate its claims to the annexed Ukrainian lands.

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