Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency said Friday that Ukrainian units are in the center of the city of Kherson and that the southern city, whose population before the war was more than 300,000, was once again under Ukrainian control. after being occupied by Russian forces since March.
“Any attempt to counteract our troops will be frustrated,” continues the statement, which confirms Russia’s withdrawal and urges the Russian soldiers who remain in the region to surrender.
This information follows the first images circulating on social networks in which dozens of people are seen with Ukrainian flags and chanting victory slogans in the central square of Kherson, where the first Ukrainian troops to arrive seized selfie between the crowd. In the video it is seen how two men hold a female soldier, others wrap themselves with the national flag and a man cries with joy.
Ukrainian troops have already liberated at least twelve settlements in that region, noted the Ukrainian agency Ukrinfor, which also reports the collapse of the Antonivsky bridge in the region’s capital.
This withdrawal is the third largest since the beginning of the invasion on February 24. In the spring, Russia withdrew from the outskirts of Kyiv, then in September it was defeated on the northwestern front and has now abandoned almost the entire Kherson region.
This same Friday, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that it had completed “the redeployment” of its units from the right bank of the Dnieper River, where Kherson is located, to the left, assuring that it had not suffered any loss or abandoned military equipment.
“It was the proposal of Commander Sergei Surovikin, and the decision of the Defense Minister,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov explained in a conference call, referring to the withdrawal of Russian troops from Kherson.
Joy in Kyiv, caution in Kherson
As joy broke out in Kyiv on Friday, Ukrainian officials warned people in Kherson of premature euphoria as Russian troops moved into new positions across the river.
“The fortifications on the left bank are quite close, a powerful bombardment is possible,” Nataliya Humeniuk, spokeswoman for the military command in the south of the country, said on television this Friday.
After making impressive gains in eastern Ukraine over the summer, Ukraine’s southern front has proven more difficult. But since the beginning of October, Ukrainian troops have liberated a strip of territory of more than 850 square kilometers on the right bank of the Dnieper.
The liberation of the territory around the city of Kherson will allow Ukrainian artillery to hit targets deep inside the Russian-occupied territory on the opposite bank of the Dnieper to the border with the Crimean peninsula: explained Serhii Khlan, deputy head of the regional council.
New setback for Putin
This new withdrawal represents a new setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who announced at the end of September, during a ceremony with great pomp in Moscow, the annexation to the Russian Federation of four Ukrainian regions, including Kherson. Putin warned then that he would defend “by all means” what he considered Russian territories, wielding the threat of nuclear resources.
But powerless against the Ukrainian counteroffensive launched at the end of the summer, the Russian army announced on Wednesday that it was leaving the northern part of the Kherson region to consolidate its positions on the other side of the Dnieper, a natural barrier.
On the part of kyiv, caution had been maintained throughout the day yesterday regarding the withdrawal of Russian troops announced by Moscow.
In a conversation yesterday with the British prime minister, Rishi Sunak, the president of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelensky, stressed the need to observe this caution despite the enemy withdrawal, at least until the Ukrainian flag flies again in the city.
Zelensky thanked London for the material support and stressed that British military collaboration is helping “protect vital energy infrastructure and allowing Ukrainian troops to advance.”