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Ukraine war: Russians start leaving Ukraine's Kherson city


Tens of thousands of civilians and Russian-appointed officials are being moved out of Ukraine's southern Kherson region ahead of a Ukrainian offensive, says the Russia-installed local leader.


Vladimir Saldo said all Russian-appointed departments and ministries would cross the Dnieper river.


Some 50-60,000 civilians would also leave in an "organised, gradual displacement", he said earlier.


Ukraine has called on residents to ignore the Russian move.

The head of Kherson's regional administration said Russia wanted to take civilians hostage and use them as human shields. The transfer or deportation of civilians by an occupying power from occupied territory is considered a war crime.


In a separate development, Russia's Vladimir Putin said he had signed a decree imposing martial law on four Ukrainian regions, including Kherson, which Moscow annexed last month in a move rejected as illegal by the international community.


He told Russia's Security Council that it would give regional leaders additional powers to maintain social order and safeguard important facilities.

Russian TV footage on Wednesday showed a number of people gathering near the west bank of the Dnieper. As they queued for boats, it was not clear how many were leaving.

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