The Moscow-installed authorities in Ukraine's southern Kherson region formed a territorial defense unit on Monday and have urged men across the region to join up to defend the city of Kherson.
"For all men who wish to stay in Kherson, despite the increased security threat due to the actions of Ukrainian nationalists, an opportunity has been created to join the city's territorial defense units," an announcement on the local authorities' Telegram channel read on Monday.
The call for civilians to defend the Russian-occupied regional capital comes as a Ukrainian counteroffensive continues to advance on Russian held areas on the right bank of the Dnipro River.
Ukrainian long-range artillery is continuing to put pressure on Russian positions and logistics across the region, although the deputy head of the pro-Kremlin Kherson administration, Kirill Stremousov, said Monday that Russian forces has successfully repelled Ukrainian attempts to break through Russian defensive lines northwest of Kherson city in recent days.
With the Russian military determined to defend the first major Ukrainian city captured by Moscow in the invasion, as well as its sole foothold on the right bank of the Dnipro River, the regional authorities have been evacuating civilians in preparation for fierce battle for control of Kherson.
"Anyone can go to the left bank of the Dnipro at any time — boats depart from the ferry port every day to the town of Alyoshka and Golaya Pristan," the administration announcement Monday also added.
Russia is believed to have evacuated tens of thousands of Kherson resident in the past week, a move Kyiv has criticized, arguing that for many the evacuations were akin to involuntary deportations.