Residents of Kherson described the situation in the Russian-occupied city as tense, with people “mentally exhausted”, streets empty from mid-afternoon, and Russian soldiers in plain clothes. There are many
The woman was contacted by CNN through a third party and spoke just before Russia-appointed officials in the city ordered the civilians to leave.
The government said Saturday that “the tense situation on the front lines, the increasing risk of a massive artillery shelling of the city and the threat of terrorist attacks, urges all civilians to leave the city immediately and cross to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River. No!” he said.
Previously, authorities advised people to evict. Saturday’s announcement appears to be over that.
On Friday, a female civilian from the city of Kherson said: Everyone had their own reasons, worries and fears. But I’m 100% sure no one wanted to go. ”
CNN has not identified the woman for security reasons.
She said Kherson has become a ghost town. Tens of thousands of residents have left since the Russian occupation began in March.
“At night, you can see many skyscrapers with up to two or three windows lit up. During the day, you can mainly meet people near the market. At times the streets are empty and completely empty.”
On Saturday, a Ukrainian official, Yuri Sobolevsky, claimed in a Telegram that “the wretched scum who is terrorizing Kherson” ordered all elevators in the city shut down.
The woman said she had no intention of breaking up with him. “To be honest, this question infuriates me….This is my land and Kherson is my home. I fought hard, and this fight is still going on.”
The woman said she had not heard of anyone being forced to leave in the last few days. Some were trying to reach Vasilyukka in the neighboring Zaporizhia region, the only crossing point between Russian and Ukrainian territories still open.
It is unclear if that situation will change after the latest instructions from Russian-appointed authorities.
The woman said the air in the city was tense. “People are mentally exhausted and some do not leave their homes to avoid contact with the military. It is impossible to relax here. When I hear that, I start to get nervous, because a late car is a bad sign.”
She argued that most of those left behind understand that the Ukrainian army “never harms its citizens and never shells civilians.”
The woman said utilities continue to function, but people are worried about adequate power and heating during the winter months.
She said there was enough basic food available. “Kherson in general she has become one spontaneous market, where people sell what they can sell. I put it on top of it and sell things.”
However, with the Russians hijacking people’s ships, she was unsure how food deliveries from the east coast would hold up.
The woman said medical supplies and baby formula were in short supply and very expensive. “All that is currently imported is medicines from the Russian Federation. Medicines are sold on the street from cars or sold privately.”
There were always long lines at pharmacies, and antibiotics and other supplies were in short supply.
She was uncertain whether the number of Russian soldiers in Kherson had increased or decreased, but she noticed a growing contingent of Chechen fighters in the city.
“I can’t say that there are fewer Russian soldiers. They just took off their military uniforms and put on civilian clothes.
She said she welcomes the sound of gunfire.
“The people of Kherson are frightened by silence. I remember the summer days were quiet and Ukraine seemed to forget about us.
“You can constantly hear the Ukrainian army shelling the occupiers’ positions. I can’t imagine how happy the locals are because of that,” she said.
“Regularly, the sound of automatic weapons can be heard in various parts of the city, but no one knows who is conducting the shootout.”
Ukrainian forces are still away from the city of Kherson, but are invading other parts of the region. Russian forces appear to be digging in and defending their positions while launching missile attacks against the Ukrainian advance. Ukrainian officials say a tactical group of as many as 45 Russian battalions may be on the west bank of the Dnipro.
However, Ukrainian officials say that in some areas of Kherson, such as Berislav, occupation authorities have recently ceased operations. “Collaborators who cooperated with the Russian occupiers continue to leave the city with their families and property,” the Ukrainian military said on Friday.
In recent days, Ukrainians have attacked a newly built pontoon under the Antonivsky Bridge near the city of Kherson. Local officials said four people were killed.