Ukraine retakes Kherson, Washington celebrates ‘extraordinary victory’
Ukraine retook the city of Kherson from the Russians on Friday, “a historic day,” said President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and an act of arms that began on Saturday morning by…
Ukraine retook the city of Kherson from the Russians on Friday in what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said is “a historic day” and an act of arms that was hailed as an “extraordinary victory” by the United States on Saturday morning.
“It seems that the Ukrainians have just won an extraordinary victory: the only regional capital that Russia captured in this war is now back under the Ukrainian flag, which is quite remarkable,” the adviser to National Security Envoy Jake Sullivan said on his Travel to the ASEAN Summit in Cambodia with US President Joe Biden.
“Today is a historic day. We are taking back the south of the country, we are taking back Kherson,” said Mr. Zelensky on Friday evening in his daily speech published on social networks.
“The special forces are already in the city,” he added, adding that their first task would be to neutralize the numerous mines left behind by the Russian army, which had occupied Kherson since mid-March.
A video posted by Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Telegram, presented as being from Kherson, showed Ukrainian soldiers calling themselves from the “28th March”.
“Finally my free city”
“We see friendly, smiling faces, flowers, embroidered towels with which we greet our vehicles,” Andriï Jolob, commander of a medical unit currently located about fifty kilometers from Kherson, told AFP by phone from Warsaw.
This Russian withdrawal is the third of this magnitude since the invasion began on February 24, after Russia was forced to surrender to fierce resistance from Ukrainians in the spring to take Kyiv, before being driven out of almost all of the Kharkiv region (northeast) in September .
On Friday evening, residents of Kherson, who had been refugees in the capital for months, celebrated the news with jubilation in Kyiv’s iconic Maidan Square.
“Finally my free city, the city where I was born, where I’ve lived my whole life,” said Nastia Stepenska with tears in her eyes, the national colors painted on her cheeks. “When they (the Russians) arrived it was horrific, we didn’t know what would happen the next day if we survived,” says the 17-year-old high school student, who is “in a state of shock.”
Earlier on Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that at 05:00 Moscow time (02:00 GMT) it had completed the “relocation” of its units from the right (west) bank of the Dnieper River, where the city of Kherson is located left bank to ensure that they had not suffered any casualties or left any military equipment behind.
According to Moscow, “more than 30,000” Russian soldiers and “almost 5,000 units of armor and military vehicles” were withdrawn from the west bank of the Dnieper.
That decline has had all the snubs, however, as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin had called for the annexation of four Ukrainian regions, including Kherson, in late September.
Despite the withdrawal, the latter remains “a subject of the Russian Federation,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov on Friday. “There can be no change,” he added in the Russian Presidency’s first comment on the withdrawal.
In southern Ukraine, too, the governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitaliï Kim, announced on Friday evening that she was now “completely liberated”.
In view of the G20 summit of world economic powerhouses scheduled for next week in Indonesia, at which Vladimir Putin resigned, the French presidency wanted to see the possibility of a dialogue.
“There is a very clear space at the G20 to deliver a message of peace and to ask Russia to go along with the logic of de-escalation,” said an adviser to President Macron. “A very large majority within the club (the G20) believes that this war is huge and unbearable for the rest of the world.”
Jake Sullivan, asked Saturday about reports that the Biden administration had begun pressuring President Zelenskyy to consider negotiations with Moscow, noted that Russia continued to have “absurd claims” on its self-declared annexations.
“Ukraine is the peace party and Russia is the war party in this conflict. Russia invaded Ukraine surrender, that would be the end of Ukraine,” he argued.
“In this regard, our position remains the same as in the past and essentially in close consultation and support with President Zelensky,” continued Mr. Sullivan.
The Ukrainian President reiterated this week that the first condition for negotiations is the complete withdrawal of Russian troops that invaded Ukraine on February 24.
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