Russian proxy officials in the city of Nova Kakhovka in Ukraine’s southern Kherson region said Tuesday that they were relocating deeper into Russian-held territory because they were increasingly under fire from Ukrainian forces.
The officials’ exit from Nova Kakhovka, located on the left bank of the Dnipro River, comes days after Russian forces withdrew from the regional capital of Kherson in one of their most significant setbacks in the war.
"Employees of the state administration of Nova Kakhovka, as well as state and municipal institutions, have left the city and were relocated to safe locations in the region," the city’s Moscow-appointed authorities said on the Telegram messaging app.
Russian military forces are not abandoning Nova Kakhovka or neighboring settlements on the left bank of the Dnipro River, the statement said.
It added that "crews of municipal workers" were working to ensure the "functioning of energy and water supply systems."
Ukraine’s General Staff on Monday claimed that Russia has moved large numbers of troops from around Nova Kakhovka to shore up its positions in other parts of Ukraine.
The city, which is the location of the Kakhovka Reservoir and Hydroelectric Power Plant, has faced increased shelling in recent days as Ukrainian forces’ counteroffensive has continued to gain ground.
After falling into Russian hands in the early days of the conflict, Nova Kakhovka, which also has two bridges over the Dnipro and is key to controlling Ukraine’s south, has been fiercely contested by the two warring sides.
Two spans of the Kakhovka bridges, as well as the Antonivsky Bridge further downstream in Kherson city, were destroyed amid Moscow’s retreat last week, effectively cutting off the southern part of Kherson from the north.
Vladimir Saldo, the Kherson region’s Moscow-installed governor, also claimed Tuesday that Russia has evacuated a number of civilians in recent days.
"In search of salvation ... thousands of Nova Kakhovka residents responded to the Kherson regional administration’s calls to protect their lives and left their homes.”
The Kherson region is one of four regions that Russia annexed in September in a move widely unrecognized by the international community.