Power outages in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv Power outages in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv  (ANSA)

Ukraine: ‘Russia looting Kherson homes ahead of battle’

Ukraine has accused Russia of looting empty homes in the southern city of Kherson and occupying them with troops in civilian clothes. Monday's accusations came as both sides prepared for what they view as one of the war's most important battles, despite Pope Francis’ appeal for a peaceful solution to the armed conflict.

By Stefan J. Bos 

Russia has reportedly ordered civilians out of Kherson ahead of an anticipated Ukrainian assault to recapture the strategic city. 

It is the only regional capital Moscow has seized since its invasion on February 24.

Western military observers say recapturing it would have symbolic and logistical value for Ukraine as Russia wants the area to secure water supply to the occupied Crimea peninsula and a land bridge to Russia. 

Ukrainian and Russian officials say that Kherson, with a pre-war population of nearly 300,000, has been cold and dark after power and water were cut nearby over the past 48 hours. 

Russian-installed officials blamed Ukrainian "sabotage" and said they were working to restore electricity. 

Kyiv denies the accusations saying Russians had dismantled 1.5 kilometers (nearly 1 mile) of power lines. 

Ukraine’s leadership also described the evacuation of the area of tens of thousands of people from Kherson as “a forced deportation” and “a war crime.” But Moscow says it is sending residents away for their safety. 

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Russian air strikes 

As fighting continues, millions of Ukrainian consumers are without power due to Russian air strikes, Ukrainian authorities say. 

The government even urged residents in the capital Kyiv to prepare to leave amid concerns that more Russian missile and drone attacks could destroy the already damaged power grid there. 

Yet, Russian soldiers, including many whose lives have just begun and were mobilized to fight in Ukraine, are suffering too.

As Ukrainian forces recapture territories, many Russian troops hastily withdraw from the Kherson area. 

Footage show panicked-stricken Russian forces trying to evacuate wounded soldiers as Ukrainian attacks continue. But soon after, something horrific happens: their military vehicle crashes on the side of the road.

Pope Francis also noticed the human suffering from a war that is believed to have claimed tens of thousands of lives. 

On his way home from Bahrein, the Pope told reporters he has “a great affection for the Russian and Ukrainian people.” The Pope made clear that he prays for peace and that the Vatican had “many confidential meetings” with leaders to help end the war, which he said was fueled partly by what he called the terrible arms industry. 

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07 November 2022, 17:02