Vladimir Putin’s “henchmen” are reported to be fleeing in panic from Kherson province, as Ukraine’s army makes further advances on the southern front. While most attention has been focused on Ukraine’s counteroffensive in the northeast and east of the country, Kyiv’s southern army continues to make territorial gains. President Zelensky told reporters that since the beginning of October, Ukraine had retaken more than 500 square kilometres (193 square mile) of territory in the Kherson province.
Ukraine’s steady advance has spread panic among Russian appointed officials in occupied parts of Kherson.
Those willing to work under the Russians are viewed as traitors and collaborators by Kyiv and could face serious retribution if captured.
Fearing reprisals, administrators in Nova Kakhovka commandeered twelve mini buses to evacuate themselves and their families to Crimea.
Ukraine’s General Staff noted in its Sunday bulletin: “The enemy and its henchmen are fleeing, frightened by the successes of the Defence Forces of Ukraine.
“Representatives of the occupying authorities of Nova Kakhovka are taking their families to the temporarily occupied territory of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea.
“According to available information, on October 7, a convoy of 12 minibuses left for the city of Sevastopol.”
Nova Kakhovka is a key target for Ukraine’s commanders, whose capture would have serious consequences for the Kremlin.
The town is the site of a hydroelectric dam and a vital bridge that crosses the Dnipro River.
The bridge is one of only two that Russia’s army is able to use to supply its 25,000 or so troops on the western bank of the river.
The other, the Antonivskyi bridge in Kherson city, has been rendered all but unusable by Himars strikes.
The capture of Nova Kakhovka would in effect cut off supplies to Russian troops on the western bank and lead to inevitable defeat.
Moreover, the reservoir behind the dam at the hydroelectric station is a source of fresh water for Crimea.
“And If the Russians retreat over the Inhulets, the Ukrainians can cross the Dnipro and establish a bridgehead on the left bank, from which they can attack towards Crimea and Melitopol.
“At Kakhovka they can also cut the water to Crimea. In short the Russians only have bad options.”
Ukraine’s Southern Operational Command reports on Saturday that Russian forces continued to shell areas along the line of contact to prevent Ukrainian advances.
The Russians were also said to be establishing new defensive lines in the Beryslav and Nova Kakhovka areas.