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A Russian checkpoint in the southeastern region of Zaporizhzhia became the only relatively safe way for Ukrainians to try to leave the occupied southern areas for Ukrainian-held territory.
But recent videos around the checkpoint show hundreds of vehicles lined up, unable to cross.
Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, which is in Russian-occupied territory, told Ukrainian television on Tuesday that “evacuation from the occupied territories is the biggest problem. Evacuation is almost impossible today.”
He said people were trying to leave the occupied territories of Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk and Luhansk through the Vasylivka checkpoint, with some having been on the road for seven days, sleeping in their cars.
“Today more than 5,000 people, more than 1,200 cars gathered there,” he added.
Fedorov, who is not in Melitopol, reported the deaths of five people waiting to leave in recent days. He did not explain the circumstances of the deaths.
“People can’t even go and buy food for themselves. The only condition Russians allow people to go and buy food in town is to leave all the documents with them (passport, driver’s license, etc.) .) and recover them after returning.”
Videos show people sleeping in their cars and tents and crammed into a gas station in high summer temperatures. Some people sleep under the stars.
Video shows a large grass fire burning next to the highway near the checkpoint. Large amounts of trash also accumulated around the checkpoint.
Fedorov said the Russians were using civilians as human shields in Melitopol and had spent the past three days carrying out large arms transfers through the temporarily occupied territories.
“Yesterday, three convoys of equipment passed through the city of Melitopol in the direction of Kherson. This is about a hundred units of heavy weapons, more than 20 tanks, landing vehicles, etc. “, he specified.
Fedorov added that the armor was moving west to Kherson where a Ukrainian counterattack against the Russian defenses is developing.