Ukraine’s military said they had received reports of looting and robberies in the city of Kherson, which is under Russian control. The information was given by the Ukrainian authorities in an official statement released this Saturday (22). Forces led by President Volodymyr Zelensky blame the crimes on Russian troops, who also allegedly ordered a curfew in the region.
“The number of cases of looting and illegal actions in Kherson has increased,” said the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. “The Russian occupiers seize cars from the local population and try to leave the city using the ferry near the Antonivskyi bridge.”
On Saturday morning, the Russian-backed local administration directed civilians to evacuate the area towards the east bank of the Dnipro River. Ukraine’s counter-offensive is closing in on Kherson, although the Kiev government rejects Russian claims of danger to the population, calling the move unfounded “hysteria”.
Ukraine’s military also says Russian forces are withdrawing from the Kherson region, leaving two settlements about 100 kilometers northeast of the city, Charivne and Chkalove. Officers and medical personnel were also evacuated from Beryslav, east of the city of Kherson, Ukrainian officials said.
CNN was unable to independently verify the military’s claims about the crimes reported at Kherson or the Russian military’s movement.
More than military bases or transport hubs, Russia has, in recent weeks, intensified bombings on Ukraine’s electricity and heating distribution networks.
With the European winter approaching, Russian missile and drone attacks are hitting thermal power plants, electricity substations, transformers and pipelines. The result: continuous power cuts, downed water pump stations and widespread internet outages.
“This is a terrorist act planned with the help of competent Russian energy experts, which aims to shut down Ukraine’s power system. In other words, achieving a complete blackout in the country,” said Oleksandr Kharchenko, CEO of the Energy Research Center in Kiev, on Friday (21).
Hydroelectric and gas-fired thermoelectric plants are essential to ensure the survival of the Ukrainian population during the harsh winter, since the energy generated from them enables the heaters to work.
While Russian forces suffered casualties in September and October, experts reckon that plunging Ukraine into a dark, icy winter is the Russian forces’ new strategy.