Officials started evacuating civilians from the city of Kherson as Russia President Vladimir Putin declared martial law in the occupied regions of Ukraine.

Daily Mail reported Wednesday that he said that the order will come into effect from midnight in Kherson, Donetsk, Luhansk and Zaporizhzhia regions. It will give him sweeping powers to curtail the freedoms of civilians. It will also allow him to repurpose industries, and press-gang Ukrainians into his armed forces to fight their fellow countrymen. But it is unclear if all these powers will be used.

According to The Sun, Putin's move to declare martial law seems to be something of a formality. But once again it represents an escalation in his war on Ukraine. He didn't spell out what powers will be introduced, but it could see restrictions on travel and public gatherings. There might be tighter censorship and broader authority for law enforcement agencies.

Mirror reported that the decree states that the Kremlin has the power to carry out mobilization measures. The Kremlin also has the "authority to implement measures to meet the needs of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation."

The order also affects occupied Crimea and Krasnodar, Bryansk, Belgorod, Voronezh, Kursk, and Rostov. They are on Russia's own territory bordering Ukraine.

Putin's announcements came shortly after Sergei Surovikin, his new commander in Ukraine, said that the situation in Kherson is "tense." Evacuations started in the area as Vladimir Saldo, the Kremlin's man in the city, said that up to 60,000 people will be shifted in the next six days. This suggests that it could come under attack within a week. The administration is also moving, Saldo added. But he vowed that Russia would "fight to the death" to regain full control.

If Putin's troops are forced to flee then the defeat would be the most humiliating they have suffered to date. This raises fears of further escalation. There have been speculations that Putin could be preparing some kind of nuclear show of force. It includes the first open-air detonation of an atomic weapon since the 1960s. It could be potentially over the Black Sea. Downing Street also warned that he will face "severe consequences" if nukes are used.

Vladimir Putin
(RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the plenary session of the Eastern Economic Forum, on September 7, 2022 in Vladivostok, Russia. About 5000 participants from 47 countries, including Russian President Putin, have arrived to the Russky Island in Russian Far-Eastern city of Vladivostok to take part in the forum. Photo by Contributor/Getty Images

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