Russia is allegedly pulling out appointed officials and thousands of civilians with Ukraine reportedly planning an offensive over the Kherson region.

According to Vladimir Saldo, all Russian appointees and ministries would be crossing the Dnieper river, BBC reported.

However, Ukraine has told residents to ignore the Russian move. The head of Kherson’s regional administration claims that Russia wanted to take hostage civilians after which they would be turned into human shields.

In all, the transport or deportation of civilians is deemed illegal and considered a war crime.

Along with this, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has allegedly signed a decree to impose martial law on four Ukrainian regions, including Kherson. He reportedly told Russia's Security Council that it would give regional leaders additional powers to maintain social order and safeguard important facilities.

It was on Tuesday, Oct. 18, when civilians started getting text messages urging them to evacuate and avoid shelling of residential areas by Ukrainian forces.

"They are told to evacuate because the evil Ukrainians are going to shell the city," one resident told BBC. "People are panicking because of propaganda."

There were several civilians spotted gathering near the west bank of the Dnieper river, something captured on Russian TV. However, Ukrainian officials questioned this and believe that this is purely for show.

Instead, an aide for the ousted head of the Kherson region suggested that the scene could be a cover, hinting that Russia may be up to something such as a complete military evacuation from the west bank of the river.

"I foresee the withdrawal of troops," Serhiy Khlan stated.

The aide further added that Russia was preparing to establish a new capital for the Kherson region at Henichesk, close to the Crimean Peninsula, adding that banks and offices related to the occupation of Kherson had already been evacuated.

Kherson was the first major city to fall to Russian forces when they invaded Ukraine in February.

Russian President Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a Security Council meeting via a video link at the Novo-Ogaryovo state residence outside Moscow Getty Images | Sergei ILYIN / SPUTNIK / AFP

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