Kyiv steps up offensive as first grain shipment could leave Black Sea today

Civilians have begun to leave Kherson amid fears of a major urban battle between the occupying Russian garrison and an approaching Ukrainian counter-offensive, Verity Bowman and Roland Oliphant write.

The exodus came as posters of the US-supplied Himars weapons system appeared on the city’s streets, urging Russian soldiers to leave.

“No one in Kherson feels safe,” said Alexander Smurikov, a 22-year-old who left with his mother and younger sisters on Wednesday.

“There was a base 500 metres from my home. [Russian soldiers] would walk around, smoke our cigarettes and spit. The Russians march like it is their land, but I bet it will not be much longer. Ukraine is coming back.

“I am exhausted and scared for my Dad, he stayed behind at our home. There is no connection with him and my grandparents. It is dangerous to drive through Ukraine, but we had to leave before the fighting got closer.”

Read more: Kherson’s partisans tell the Russians: ‘Can’t leave? Himars will help you’

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