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LONDON: Civilians should evacuate the Russian-controlled Ukrainian city of Kherson as fast as possible because Ukrainian forces could begin an offensive at any moment, a Russian-installed official said.

Russian forces in Kherson have been driven back by 20-30 km (13-20 miles) in the last few weeks and are at risk of being pinned against the right or western bank of the Dnipro River.

Ukrainian forces “will shortly begin an offensive against the city of Kherson,” said Kirill Stremousov, the Russian-installed deputy head of the Kherson region, which Russia partially controls.

“I ask you to take my words seriously and take them to mean: the fastest possible evacuation,” he said in a late night post on Telegram.

Ukraine and Russia: What you need to know right now

In a later post, he said that as of Wednesday the situation on the front was stable but that civilians should still leave for the left bank.

“Move as fast as possible, please, to the left bank,” he said. Civilians in Kherson were receiving messages from the Russian-installed administration telling them to leave the city, RIA news agency reported.

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