As Ukraine raises military pressure on frontline towns, Russian soldiers strike out indiscriminately.

May 8, 2023



(cnn)

The news of Russia's evacuation of occupied towns along the southern front has not come soon enough. Ukrainian-held Mala Tokmachka, just over a mile (2 kilometers) from Russian-held territory in the Zaporizhzhia region, has been left ghostly and battered by shelling, leaving the central square pockmarked and the school’s facade torn off. Rasa, a local woman passing some Ukrainian soldiers on her bicycle, said the explosions had picked up recently and she had heard small arms fire from the nearby highway. Just 9 miles (15 km) down the road is Polohy, a town that Russian occupiers said Friday they would evacuate, a process which local sources said had got underway at the weekend. A Russian occupation official, Yuri Balitsky, said “we cannot risk the safety of people and will provide funds for organized travel, lump sum payments, accommodation and meals.” He added children would undergo rehabilitation and rest in children’s camps.

Ukrainian officials have said the evacuations are being used to provide cover for the departure of Russian troops, and civilians are being sent to the coastal town of Berdy The evacuations of 1,600 people by Russian occupation officials on Sunday are a sign of possible weakness and recognition by Russian forces that the fight ahead of them will likely be intense. Russia has built a substantial line of defenses along its southern front in the Zaporizhzhia region, but not of a depth that would suggest Russia can easily afford to lose this initial frontline. Once Ukraine’s well-prepared offensive has pushed past this first boundary, there is a risk for Moscow that Kyiv’s move to the coast is a lot easier, which could be disastrous for the Russian occupation and Putin’s strategic hold of the land corridor that runs through Zaporizhzhia.

Zaporizhzhia-region Ukraine -russian

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