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Ukraine celebrates Russian withdrawal from Kherson as extensive rebuild looms

Kherson residents celebrated the end to Russia’s 8-month occupation on Sunday for the third consecutive day. They also took stock of the massive damage that was left in the city of southern Ukraine by the Kremlin’s retreating forces.

A large crowd of joyous people gathered in Kherson’s main square despite the distant thumps and artillery fire from Ukrainian forces pressing on in their efforts to push out Moscow’s invasion force.

Karina Zaikina (24), said that “it’s a new Year for us now.” She wore a yellow-and blue ribbon in Ukraine’s national colours on her coat. “For the first-time in many months, it was not scary to enter the city.

“Finally, freedom!” Tetiana Hitina, a 61-year old resident, said it. “The city was dead.”

Even though locals were happy, there was evidence of Russia’s brutal occupation all around. Russian forces still hold 70% of the Kherson region. The Russian forces are located less than one mile away from the city across the Nieper River. They destroyed the bridge they had built after retreating. According to the Ukrainian military, it found thousands of explosives and military vehicles that were abandoned by the Russians in haste.

A view of the damaged settlement which is recently retaken from Russian Forces in Potemkin village, Kherson Oblast, Kherson, Ukraine on November 10, 2022. 

Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

 

To reach the area, you will need a military escort. The road leading to the city is littered by bombed out cars. After months of fighting, the road is littered with craters and unexploded ordnance.

Zaikina was among the many who gathered to make use of a satellite phone connection that was available for everyone in the square. This allowed them to share news with their families and friends for the first times in several weeks.

The shuttering of downtown stores was a common occurrence. Many people had fled the city in the Russian occupation. The streets of the city were sparsely populated. Many people who ventured out on Sunday carried yellow or blue flags. People lined up to thank soldiers for autographing their flags on the square. Some people wept.

Kherson also has no electricity or running water. Food and medical supplies are scarce. Residents claim that Russian troops took over the city and stole loot before they left last week. They destroyed key infrastructure and fled across the Dnieper River to their east bank. According to one Ukrainian official, the Kherson situation was a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

“I don’t know what kind of people these are. Yevhen Teliezhenko (resident), was draped in a Ukrainian flag.

He said that it was still easier to breathe after the Russians left.

Local residents surround Ukrainian soldier as they celebrate the liberation of Kherson, on November 13, 2022, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. 

AFP via Getty Images

 

He declared, “There’s no better holiday than the one that’s happening right now.”

According to Ukrainian authorities, the city is currently being demined of its critical infrastructure. Yaroslav Yanushevych, Kherson regional governor, stated that the priority is to reconnect the electricity supply. Gas supplies are already guaranteed.

The Russian pullout was a major milestone in Ukraine’s fight against Moscow’s invasion nearly nine months ago. The Ukrainian military claimed that it had retaken many villages and towns north of Kherson in the last two months.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian President, promised to maintain pressure on Russian forces and reassure people living in villages and cities that are still under Russian occupation.

He said, “We don’t forget anyone; and we won’t leave anyone.”

The Kremlin’s significant setback in Ukraine’s retaking Kherson was the latest in a series a battlefield embarrassments. This occurred six weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed Kherson and three other Ukrainian provinces, in violation of international law, and declared them Russian territories.

Sunday’s comments by Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser at the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv, were tweeted by the U.S. Embassy in Kyiv. He described the turnaround in Kherson in Ukraine as an “extraordinary victory” and “quite a remarkable event.”

Despite Putin’s recent partial mobilization, which saw the troop numbers rise by around 300,000. This was difficult for the Russian military.

A view of damage after the Russian retreat from Kherson as the Russian-Ukrainian war continues on November 13, 2022. 

Metin Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

 

The Institute for the Study of War in Washington, which tracks the conflict, stated that Russian military leadership is failing to integrate combat units from many different organizations of different skill levels and types into a cohesive fighting force in Ukraine.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace stated that the Kremlin would be “worried” about Kherson’s loss, but cautioned against underestimating Moscow. He said, “If they have to use more cannon fodder that’s what they’ll do.”

Ukrainian police asked residents to identify Russian collaborators. Police officers from Ukraine returned to the city on Saturday along with representatives of public broadcasting services. Ihor Klymenko (the chief of the national police of Ukraine), said that about 200 officers were working in the city to set up checkpoints and record evidence of war crimes.

The Russian-appointed administration of Kakhovka, east of Kherson, announced Saturday that it was moving its employees to safety.

“Today, today, the administration is No. Pavel Filipchuk, the Moscow-installed leader in Kakhovka said that today’s administration is the No. 1 target for Ukrainian attacks. “We, as an authority are moving to a safer terrain, from which we will lead this district.”

Kakhovka lies on the east bank the Dnieper River and is upstream from the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Station.

 

 

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