Russia has ordered the evacuation of at least 60,000 people in the city of Kherson even as it fired missile and drones into the Ukraine-held city of Mykolaiv on Sunday, according to a Reuters report.

The missile and drone barrage ended up destroying an apartment building in the ship-building city that is only 35 km northwest of the front line. Russia has stated that the war is headed towards “uncontrolled escalation.”

Ukraine managed to shoot down 14 Russian “kamikaze” drones over Mykolaiv on Sunday night. The country under siege has alleged that Russia is using Iranian-made Shahed-136 attack drones, which Tehran has denied. The drones reportedly explode on impact.

Even as Ukraine advances through the Kherson region, and has been making in-roads into claiming territory back, Russia has intensified the use of missile and drone barrages on civilian infrastructure. Earlier this month, the “kamikaze” drones were used to hit Ukraine’s energy infrastructure just months before winter sets in. As a result, 40% of the country’s power system has been affected. 

The 60,000 civilians that have been evacuated are being moved deeper into Russian territory as experts anticipate a battle for the regional capital city of Kherson, which sits on the West bank of Dnipor river. The region has been a gateway to Crimea, an area that was taken by force by Russia in 2014. 

In calls with his French, British and Turkish counterparts, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu alleged that Ukraine would escalate the current situation by using a “dirty bomb”, explosives laced with radioactive materials. Not only has Shoigu made the claim without any proof, but Ukraine does not possess nuclear weaponry. On the other hand, Russian president Vladimir Putin has consistently said that the country would make use of its nuclear arsenal to defend its territory. 

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba has denied the allegations, saying, “Russians often accuse others of what they plan themselves.”