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Russian cross-border attacks force Sumy Oblast authorities to prepare evacuation from 5 km border zone

Russian cross-border attacks force Sumy Oblast authorities to prepare evacuation from 5 km border zone

On 10 July, the authorities of Ukraine’s north-eastern Sumy Oblast announced preparations to evacuate residents from the five-kilometer zone near the border with Russia, citing constant cross-border artillery attacks by Russian forces and saboteur group activities.

“The [Sumy] Regional Military Administration is preparing orders to evacuate people from the five-kilometer zone away from the state border of Ukraine,” the official announcement reads.

At the beginning of the full-scale invasion in February 2022, Russian troops occupied parts of the region, but retreated in late March after the failure of their Kyiv operation. However, shortly after pulling their troops back to Russia, the Russian forces started almost daily cross-border attacks on Ukrainian hromadas (communities) in Sumy Oblast, involving small arms, artillery, air bombs, and missiles.

The Sumy Regional Military Administration reported that it made the decision to start preparations for the evacuation of local residents of the region’s settlements located in the five-kilometer border zone, “after a thorough analysis of the operational situation on the border of Sumy Oblast, based on the reports of the military, district and local community leaders.”

According to the Administration, the regular Russian artillery attacks on border communities have significantly intensified lately. From January to July, the Russian shelling killed 35 civilians, with 17 people, including one child, killed over the last month.

Due to the damage from the attacks, local communities can remain without electricity for “weeks or even months” with schools, hospitals, shops shut down, and without the possibility for the authorities to deliver necessities under the shelling.

The Administration says it is next to impossible to repair damaged facilities as Russians deliberately attack the repair crews. The employees of the Sumyoblenergo energy company were killed as they tried to repair a damaged power line, according to the authorities.

Another threat for local residents is the activity of Russian saboteur groups. The Administration says the Russian saboteur groups murdered foresters in Svesa hromada, and locals in Shakyhyne hromada.

The Administration did not mention when the evacuation will begin but noted:

“The evacuation will begin only after each family and each resident of the border area has been informed of their rights, provided with the necessary means and resources, and after each family in the border settlements is ready to move.”

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