Russian troops are disguising themselves as civilians to try and escape the area near the contested Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, a Ukrainian mayor has said according to Ukrainian outlet Pravda.
Ukraine is expected to soon start its long-anticipated counteroffensive to retake territory occupied by Russia, including in the Zaporizhzhia region.
Ivan Fedorov, the exiled Ukrainian mayor of Melitopol — a city in the Zaporizhzhia region — said in a televised interview that residents of the occupied part of Zaporizhzhia Oblast have reported cases of Russian military personnel trying to leave by disguising themselves as civilians, according to Pravda.
“There are some military personnel who are trying to escape from the temporarily occupied territories. So, our residents report frequent cases when the Russian military personnel change into civilian clothes,” the outlet reported he said.
Fedorov said that now extra checks are being carried out on civilians in cars to make sure Russian soldiers aren’t disguised among them, Pravda reported.
The Ukrainian mayor also reportedly said that Russians have begun to leave administrative buildings in occupied Melitopol and have shut down Russian-run stores, and that while residents were being evacuated, Russian troops were “moving more and more to the Zaporizhzhia frontline.”
Fedorov warned on Saturday that the Russian-led evacuation was happening too quickly, and that huge lines were forming at the Chongar checkpoint on the road from Melitopol to Crimea, Pravda reported.
Galina Danilchenko, a local politician with long-held pro-Russian views, was installed as acting mayor in Fedorov’s place.