With Russian forces evacuating the occupied Ukrainian city of Kherson, local media on Thursday reported that Kremlin troops had blown up communications towers and abandoned checkpoints in the area before retreating.
Images shared on social media show what appears to be the twisted remains of destroyed towers in the partially-occupied Kherson Oblast on the western side of the Dnipro River.
Online observers have likened the alleged tactics of destroying civilian infrastructure as enemy forces approach to the infamous “Nero Decree” issued by Adolf Hitler in March 1945. The order—named after the Roman emperor who ruled during the Great Fire of Rome in 64 AD—saw Nazi forces destroying key German infrastructure including transport and communication facilities to stop them falling into the hands of the Allies.
Independent Russian media outlet Meduza also reported that the Russian flag had vanished from the regional administration building in Kherson. The building is located in the west bank area of the city, where Ukrainian forces have gained ground in recent weeks.
Residents in Kherson also appear to have been recorded clapping and cheering as they passed through a checkpoint abandoned by occupying forces, on Thursday.
In late October, the Kremlin-installed administration moved to the left bank of the Dnipro River in the east as part of an “evacuation” ordered by Russian authorities. Russia has been moving tens of thousands of residents out of the city ever since, claiming that Ukrainian forces are plotting to attack the Kakhovka dam in the Dnipro and flood the city.
In a video message shared on Telegram on Monday evening, the Russian-backed leader in the region, Vladimir Saldo, expanded the evacuation zone to the east side of the river for the first time. He said there was an “immediate danger of the Kherson region being flooded,” which could lead to “the mass destruction of civilian infrastructure and humanitarian catastrophe.”
Kyiv has repeatedly denied the claims, saying that the allegations are indicative that Russia is considering staging a false flag attack and blaming it on Ukrainian forces and their Western supporters. Ukrainian officials have also said Moscow’s actions in Kherson amount to a forced depopulation of the semi-occupied territory.
Another of Russia’s puppet leaders in Kherson, Kirill Stremousov, gave a bizarre interview to Russian media from the back of a moving car on Thursday. “Most likely, our units, our troops will leave for the left-bank part of the Kherson region, and people who haven’t managed to relocate from Kherson need to evacuate as quickly as possible,” he said.