STORY: Jubilant crowds greet Ukrainian troops in Kherson.
Celebrating the Russian retreat with flowers and dancing.
“I cannot even speak, I am so full of emotions,” this resident says. “God bless us.”
Russia has abandoned the only regional capital it had captured in the war in one of its biggest blows yet, but it’s not over.
Fleeing Russian forces mined critical infrastructure, Kherson regional officials said on Sunday (November 13).
Most homes are still without electricity and water, which the utility companies are working to restore.
On Kherson’s outskirts, a graveyard of military hardware … deserted Russian positions … testify to months of occupation.
The withdrawal marked the third major Russian retreat of the war in the face of a major Ukrainian counter-offensive that has retaken parts of the east and south.
”We could not say a word here. Four cars came and they told us: ‘It is because of your pro-Ukrainian position.’ I said: ‘You can shoot us down because we are Ukrainians.’ We could not say a word. We could not say: ‘Glory to Ukraine!'”
Police said they were setting up checkpoints and sweeping for mines.
The governor of Kherson region, Yaroslav Yanushevych, says there’ll be an overnight curfew from 5 p.m. and no one can leave or enter the city, as a security measure.
Volleys of artillery fire surrounded the international airport.
As residents partied in the streets, fierce fighting continued along the eastern front in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Ukraine’s general staff reported.
President Volodymyr Zelenskiy credited Ukraine’s success in Kherson and elsewhere in part to stiff resistance in the Donetsk region, despite repeated Russian attacks.
“There, it is just hell”, he said in his regular evening video address on Saturday (November 12). “There are extremely fierce battles there every day.”
For now, the joy is intense though.
In Odesa, there was even an impromptu wedding when this couple – she an evacuee from Kherson – heard the Russians had finally left.