KYIV, Ukraine – Ukraine accused Russia on Monday, November 7, of looting empty homes in the southern city of Kherson and occupying them with troops in civilian clothes to prepare for street fighting in what both sides predict will be one of the war’s most important battles.
In recent days Russia has ordered civilians out of Kherson in anticipation of a Ukrainian assault to recapture the city, the only regional capital Moscow has seized since its invasion in February.
Kherson, with a pre-war population of nearly 300,000, has been left cold and dark after power and water were cut to the surrounding area over the past 48 hours, both sides said.
Russian-installed officials blamed Ukrainian “sabotage” and said they were working to restore electricity. Ukrainian officials said the Russians had dismantled 1.5 km of power lines, and electricity probably would not return until Ukrainian forces recapture the area.
Kyiv has described the evacuation of the area as a forced deportation, a war crime. Moscow says it is sending residents away for safety.
The city lies in the only pocket of Russian-held territory on the west bank of the Dnipro River that bisects Ukraine. Recapturing it has been the main focus of Ukraine’s counter-offensive in the south which