July 23, 2024

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War in Ukraine, day 260 | Kiev hailed ‘significant victory’ after Russian withdrawal from Kherson

War in Ukraine, day 260 |  Kiev hailed ‘significant victory’ after Russian withdrawal from Kherson

(Kyiv) The Ukrainian army entered the main city of Kherson in the south of the country on Friday after the withdrawal of Russian forces, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.

Posted at 6:27 p.m
Updated at 8:36 am.

Daphne Rousseau in Q and Yelizaveta Krotik in Mykolay
French media agency

“Kherson is returning to Ukrainian control, units of the Ukrainian Armed Forces are entering the city,” the ministry said on Facebook, calling on the remaining Russian soldiers to “surrender immediately.”

Ukrainian diplomacy hailed this new heavy setback by Russia as “an important victory” after a nearly nine-month military campaign in Ukraine.

The retreat was the third major since the invasion began on February 24, and Russia abandoned almost the entire region from Kharkov in the spring to capture Kyiv before being defeated in the northeast in September.

“Ukraine has just won another important victory and has proven that no matter what Russia says or does, Ukraine will win,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Twitter.

He posted a video on his account of residents of the Piloserka region, a few kilometers from the city of Kherson, in the process of tearing down a giant poster declaring “Russia is always here.”

Ukraine’s parliament, the Verkhovna Rada, released photos of civilians waving Ukrainian flags in Kherson.

The Ukrainian army did not immediately announce that it had entered the regional capital.

Early Friday afternoon, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that Moscow had completed a “redistribution” of its units from the right bank of the Dnieper River, where Kherson is located, to the left bank at 5 a.m. Confirms no loss or abandonment of military equipment.

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All of these withdrawals are ugly, as Vladimir Putin said during a ceremony at the Kremlin in late September that he had annexed four Ukrainian regions, including Kherson.

The Russian president has threatened to resort to nuclear weapons and has warned that he will defend what he considers Russian territories “by all means”.

But in the face of a Ukrainian counteroffensive launched at the end of the summer, the Russian military announced on Wednesday that it would abandon the northern part of the Kherson region, consolidating its positions on the other side of the natural Dnieper. Prohibition.

Photo by Andre Borodulin, Agence France-Presse Archives

View of Gerson in May 2022

Despite this retreat, the region remains “an object of the Russian Federation,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov estimated Friday.

No Russian “regrets”.

“There can be no change,” he said in his first comment on the Russian president’s retreat.

Mr Peskov said the Kremlin was “not sorry” for its September annexation ceremony.

Most notable was Vladimir Putin’s decision on September 21 to mobilize some 300,000 reservists to withdraw from part of Ukraine precisely to consolidate troubled Russian lines.

State news agency Ria Novosti broadcast nighttime footage of Russian military vehicles leaving Kherson, indicating they were crossing the Antonovsky Bridge over the Dnieper River.

Several Russian reporters indicated with accompanying images that the viaduct had been destroyed.

Ukraine made the bridge, the only one in the city of Kherson, difficult to cross without destroying it for weeks.

The Ukrainian public service, which said a dozen locations had been captured on Thursday, restrained itself by saying Friday morning that its offensive was “continuing” and that the results would be reported “later.”

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Ukraine has been very wary of a Russian retreat for the past two days, fearing a threat or that the Russian military will mine the entire area to make it as difficult as possible for Ukrainian forces to return.

A cynical answer

Russia has continued to carry out strikes across Ukraine, where parts of energy infrastructure have been destroyed in recent weeks, leading to blackouts in large parts of the country, including the capital, Kyiv.

On the night of Thursday to Friday, another strike was carried out targeting the city of Mykolaiv in southern Ukraine, about a hundred kilometers from Kherson.

A five-story apartment building was completely destroyed, killing at least seven people, in what Vitaly Kim, head of the regional administration, condemned on Telegram as “the terrorist state’s cynical response to the victories on our foreheads.”

An AFP reporter at the scene could see a building collapse and rescue workers working their way through the rubble. A backhoe removed much of the debris.

On the Eastern Front, fighting continues to rage, particularly in Bagmouth, a town Moscow has been trying to capture since the summer and a key battleground where the Russian army is based, backed by the auxiliaries Wagner. attack