KIVIL, MOSCOW – Ukrainian soldiers began entering Kherson on Friday after a Russian withdrawal from the strategic city, in an important victory for Ukraine.
“Today is a historic day. We are taking back Kherson,” the country’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky He said in the title of the video.
He said the army’s special units are already in the city and more troops are on the way.
The videos were shared on social media by Zelensky, officials and other citizens Show the crowd On the street they celebrate and chant “ZSU! ZSU!” – The initials of the Ukrainian characters of the armed forces of the country.
Ukraine’s restoration of the major southern city was a major setback for Russia, just six weeks after Russian President Vladimir. Putin declared illegally The wider Kherson region and three other regions were incorporated into the Russian Federation.
Kherson was the only regional capital Russia had captured since it launched its large-scale invasion in February.
Putin has been silent ever since Defense Minister announced The last Russian troops withdrew from the city of Kherson early Friday morning.
But Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov insisted Russia still maintains a legal hold on the region after the withdrawal. “Here there can be no changes,” Peskov said on Friday.
Ukrainians demolish Russian banners
Since early Friday morning, unconfirmed videos and photos have appeared on the Internet of the existence of the Ukrainian flag Raised over Kherson City Administration Building And the Police Headquartersas well as the cheerful locals in the neighboring villages Liberation celebration. Several videos surfaced of Ukrainians tearing up Russian banners that read:Russia is here forever. “
“Even when the city has not yet been completely cleansed of the presence of the enemy, the Kherson people themselves are already removing Russian symbols from the streets, buildings and any traces of the occupiers remaining in Kherson,” Zelensky said in his speech.
Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Agency said it would rights guarantee Any Russian soldier who was abandoned surrendered under a program called “I want to live”.
Damaged bridge over Dnipro
Satellite Image © 2022 Maxar Technologies
The Russian withdrawal came amid reports Of the severe damage to the Antonevsky Bridge – the only road in the region that crosses the Dnipro River. It appears that satellite images published by Maxar Technologies show that part of the bridge has been completely cut.
Russian and Ukrainian officials blamed each other for the damage.
Earlier this week, the commander of Russian forces in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovkin, suggested planning to quit From Kherson during a report by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on national television.
In statements that appeared carefully orchestrated, Sorovikin called the decision to withdraw to the east bank of the Dnipro River “difficult”, but one that would allow Russia to save military lives and preserve Russia’s fighting capability.
Shoigu agreed and gave the order.
The face of the initial advertisement Doubt from the Ukrainian governmentwhich previously expressed concern that the withdrawal of troops there might be a ploy by the Kremlin to lure Ukrainian troops into the city.
Carl Kurt/Getty Images
On Thursday, Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksiy Reznikov Reuters He believed that it would take “at least one week” for Russian forces to leave the city and that Moscow still had about 40,000 troops in the area.
But the Russians completed their withdrawal across the river from Kherson less than 48 hours after the move was announced.
Russian withdrawal widely believed It could be a blow to Putin’s war effort in Ukraine — a view underlined by the Russian leader’s continued silence on the withdrawal.
Charles Maines reports from Moscow, Ashley Westerman from Kyiv.
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