Ukrainian soldiers shared emotional reunions and signed autographs following the Russian retreat in Kherson, where there was a celebratory energy Monday even though the city’s without power or water.
One video from Kherson showed a Ukrainian soldier running to hug his grandmother at the door to her home, laying aside his rifle to embrace her.
Ukrainians could be heard chanting “Kherson is Ukraine” — a repudiation of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s shotgun annexation of the province — while taking to the street with blue and gold flags.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky made an unannounced visit to the regional capital, greeting jubilant residents and taking selfies with soldiers, vowing to restore essential infrastructure in the newly liberated city.
“You see our strong army. We are step by step coming through our country, through the temporarily occupied territories,” he said.
Olga Fedorova, an English teacher in Kherson, said the lack of power and internet in the city had made it difficult to know that liberation was underway.
“We just understood that there are no Russian troops in this city and something has changed,” she said Monday.
“People were smiling and probably somebody knew something. [And then], we saw how the [Ukrainian] flag had been raised by our people. And we were just crying.”
Kherson’s liberation comes after Russian troops withdrew across the Dnipro River, taking up fortified defense positions opposite Kherson City on the eastern bank.
Though the retreat obviates the need for brutal street-by-street fighting in Kherson — and leaves much of the city relatively intact — Russian forces have indicated their intention to dig in and defend the eastern bank of the Dnipro.
“They are strengthening their defensive lines on that side of the river,” a senior US military official said at briefing Monday. “It is our assessment right now that their intent would be to try to hold on to that territory.
“Since the Russians don’t appear inclined to depart the rest of occupied Ukraine, there’s undoubtedly still tough fighting ahead,” the official added.
Meanwhile, Moscow’s troops have launched a new offensive in Donetsk after their retreat from Kherson, with fighting continuing to rage around Bakhmut in the northern part of the Donetsk province.
Zelensky said the fighting in that province — one of the two that make up the eastern Donbas region — remains intense.
“The level of Russian attacks is not decreasing,” he said.
With Post Wires