Russia deports thousands from Kherson as Ukrainian army nears
By Stefan J. Bos
The Russian-appointed governor of Ukraine's Kherson area says more than 70,000 people have left the regional capital, the strategic city of Kherson, in what Ukraine has called forced deportations.
Vladimir Saldo spoke while fighting intensified in the area. Kherson city was captured by Russian troops shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine last February. But in recent weeks, Ukrainian forces have steadily taken territory.
Kherson's city capture may leave thousands of Russian troops trapped. Military experts say it also could bring Russian bases in the annexed Crimea peninsula within range of heavy artillery.
The counter-offensive comes as Ukraine also claims to have shot down more than 300 Iranian-made drones that witnesses say Russia uses to target civilian sites and infrastructures.
Standing outside, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky acknowledged that told Russian drones and missiles had caused significant damage and electricity shortages. However, he told his nation: "Shelling will not break us – to hear the enemy's anthem on our land is scarier than the enemy's rockets in our sky. We are not afraid of the dark."
His remarks came after his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin defended what be called a special military operation in Ukraine. Putin warned that the world faces, in his words, "probably the most dangerous" decade since the end of World War Two.
"In front of us is probably the most dangerous, unpredictable and together with it most important decade since the end of World War Two," Putin told Russian experts Thursday.
But, he added: "The west is unable to unilaterally rules humankind, but desperately is trying to. But most nations are unwilling to accept it."
He accused the United States of inciting the conflict in Ukraine. He claimed Western elites scrambled to prevent the "inevitable crumbling" of the global dominance of the U.S. and its allies.
Yet Western officials counter that with Russian forces facing major losses on the battlefields, Moscow is suffering more than it seeks to admit.