Street parties underway as Ukraine liberates key city of Kherson

Ukrainian soldiers were greeted with emotional hugs and flowers as they arrived in the heart of Kherson on Friday after Russian troops withdrew from the city.

Videos on social media appeared to show residents gathering in the streets of Kherson, southern Ukraine, to cheer the arrival of Kiev forces after a flag was raised over the Kherson regional administration building. Ukrainian soldiers have advanced on the city — the only regional capital captured by Russia since the invasion began in February — after Moscow ordered the withdrawal of its soldiers from Kherson and surrounding areas earlier this week.

While Ukrainian and Western officials warned the withdrawal could be the prelude to a deadly Russian ambush, residents in and around the city appear to be enjoying the moment after eight long months of occupation.

Cheering crowds were filmed On Friday, Ukrainian troops were hailed as liberators, with triumphant locals seen raising soldiers in the air while onlookers cried tears of joy. legislature Inna Sovsun shared a video allegedly showing children presenting flowers to troops while residents sang the national anthem while the Ukrainian flag was raised.

According to local reports, soldiers hugged and took pictures as the Ukrainian flag was raised in front of the main police building in Kherson. Another moving clip shared online appears to show a Ukrainian girl playing the national anthem on a violin when friendly forces liberated their city in the Cherson region.

In a Facebook post on Friday, Ukraine’s defense intelligence agency declared Kherson back under Kiev’s control and encouraged any Russian soldiers remaining in the area to surrender. “Your commanders urge you to dress in civilian clothes and attempt to flee Kherson on your own. Obviously you can’t do that,” the post said. “You only have one chance to escape death – surrender now.”

Earlier Friday, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba hailed the Russian withdrawal by sharing a clip that appears to show residents outside the city tearing down a Russian propaganda billboard. “‘Russia is here forever’ was written on a poster in Bilozerka near Cherson.” Kuleba titled the clip. “Not really!” He added that “Ukraine is clinching another important victory and proves that whatever Russia says or does, Ukraine will win.”

Contrary to local praise, the resignation could mean a major setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kherson is the capital of one of four regions illegally annexed by Moscow in late September, with the province being a central pillar of Kremlin plans to build a land bridge with Crimea, also illegally annexed by Russia in 2014. and the port city of Odessa.

The Kremlin said on Friday the troop withdrawal had not changed anything about Kherson’s annexation to the Russian Federation. When asked if the withdrawal was humiliating for Putin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, “No.”

While Russia said it withdrew some 30,000 troops across the Dnipro River with no casualties in personnel or equipment, Ukrainian authorities tell a different story. Serhiy Khlan, a member of Ukraine’s Kherson Regional Council, claimed a large number of Russian soldiers drowned trying to escape, Reuters reports.

Before Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced the withdrawal of Moscow troops from Kherson on Wednesday, Kyiv and its allies were worried about a possible Kremlin plan to blow up the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station and flood the area. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy warned in his late night broadcast on Thursday that an attack on the plant would mean Moscow would “declare war on the whole world”. Street parties underway as Ukraine liberates key city of Kherson

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