Russian military leaders in the occupied city of Kherson crossed the Dnieper River, leaving behind new Russian recruits to try to block Ukrainian military efforts to retake the city, according to a Washington-based think tank.
“Using such inexperienced forces to carry out delaying action could cause a Russian rout if Ukrainian forces choose to continue the attack,” says the Institute for the Study of War in its latest assessment of the war.
The institute says that at least one Russian war blogger has noted that the situation in Kherson is dire for frontline Russian troops who might find it “virtually impossible” to evacuate. How to get those troops out and how to explain the flight from Kherson – which the Kremlin says it annexed – to the Russian population remain crucial questions for the Russian leadership, according to the assessment.
The Russian occupation administration of Kherson announced on Saturday that “all citizens of Kherson must immediately leave the city”. Russia is likely trying to depopulate parts of the region that Ukraine will take over, harming the long-term social and economic viability of southern Ukraine, according to the assessment.
KHERSON EVACUATION ORDER:Russian-installed authorities order evacuation ahead of expected Ukraine advance
►Two Russian pilots died when a fighter jet crashed into a house in the Siberian city of Irkutsk during a test flight, the Russian Emergency Situations Ministry announced on Sunday. No injuries were reported on the ground, the ministry said.
►Russian authorities said they were building defensive positions in occupied areas of Ukraine and Russia’s border regions amid a powerful Ukrainian counterattack that reclaimed hundreds of kilometers of territory.
Russia accuses Ukraine of wanting to use nuclear device as ‘provocation’
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Sunday insisted on his claim that Ukraine was planning a “provocation” involving a radioactive dirty bomb. Shoigu spoke with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, UK Defense Secretary Ben Wallace and others accusing Ukraine of planning an escalation of the war. Wallace, his office said, refuted the allegations and warned that such allegations should not be used as a pretext for further escalation on the Russian side. Western officials reiterated broader international support for Ukraine and their desire to defuse this conflict.
Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke for the first time in five months just two days earlier, discussing “international security concerns, including the situation in Ukraine”, according to the Pentagon.
Russia again targets energy infrastructure in weekend attacks
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Kelenskyy pleaded with Ukrainians to reduce their energy consumption, saying in his evening speech that Russian strikes continued to target electricity infrastructure. Many districts are without electricity, he said, and blackouts are now commonplace in much of the country. He urged his compatriots to listen to local authorities and power companies who were planning blackout times and to “plan your day” around them.
“Russian propagandists are lying when they say that this terror against our infrastructure and people can somehow slow down the active actions of our military or create difficulties for our defense,” Kelenskyy said.
Nine regions across Ukraine have seen more attacks targeting energy and other critical infrastructure in the past day, the Ukrainian military general staff said. He reported a total of 25 Russian airstrikes and more than 100 missile and artillery strikes around Ukraine. Energy Minister Herman Halushchenko told Reuters that up to 40% of the overall national electricity infrastructure had been hit in recent attacks which he said were aimed at destroying Ukraine’s energy system.
Wind and solar energy are the most affected
Russian missiles and drones have destroyed 90% of wind power and 50% of solar power installations in Ukraine, Halushchenko said. Most of the green energy is in the southern regions of Ukraine, where some of the most intense strikes have taken place. The share of green energy in Ukraine’s energy system was around 10% before the invasion, Halushchenko said.
Contributor: The Associated Press