Kherson.- Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky visited the city of Kherson on Mondayin the south of the country, three days after it was withdrawn from the Russian military and despite the fact that the Kremlin claims it still belongs to Russia.
“This is the beginning of the end of the war” announced the president, who reiterated his promise to completely expel the invading troops.
Russia “has shown the world that it can kill, but all of us, our armed forces, our national guards and intelligence services, have shown that it is impossible to kill Ukraine”.Zelensky said in a statement from the Ukrainian presidency.
He sang the national anthem with his hand on his heart as other civilian and military officials present raised the Ukrainian flag in front of the regional administration building in the city of Kherson.
“It is important to be here (…) so that people can feel that it is not just words and promises, but that we actually come back and fly our flag”.Zelensky said in a video posted on social media.
“Our enemies will perish like the dew of the sun, and brothers, we too will rule in our country. For our freedom, we will give our soul and body,” they chanted.
According to photos published on Telegram, the Ukrainian leader also walked the streets of the city in military clothing, surrounded by armed bodyguards, although he did not wear a helmet or bulletproof vest.
Many people, some carrying Ukrainian flags over their shoulders and smiling, waited for the president.
“Glory to Ukraine!” Some residents shouted at him from the balcony of a building. Following tradition, the head of state and his entourage responded with “Veeron ki Jai”, according to a video shared on social networks.
Russian forces pulled out of Kherson last week after an eight-month occupation, clearing the way for Ukrainian troops to enter the city on Friday.
Even then The Kremlin insists that the capital of the region of the same name, which Moscow claims, belongs to RussiaDespite the departure of the Russian army.
“We are not going to make any comments, you know very well that this is the territory of the Russian Federation,” Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in response to questions about Zelensky’s visit.
Kherson was the first major city to fall into Russian hands. After the invasion, at the end of February.
The forced withdrawal of troops from Moscow because of the Ukrainian counter-offensive represents a new blow to Vladimir Putin.
Despite this, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg warned on Monday that “The next few months will be difficult” for Ukraine and Russian President Vladimir Putin aims to “leave Ukraine cold and dark this winter”.,
Zelensky accused the Russian army of “atrocities” in Kherson on Sunday and said that so far they have documented 400 “war crimes”, without specifying whether he was referring only to that area. Russia has not responded to these claims.
“We will without a doubt find all the murderers and bring them to justice,” he stressed, adding that the Ukrainian authorities would “ensure stability and restoration of law and order in 226 cities in the Kherson region.”
“We are restoring communications, internet and television. We are making every effort to restore normal technical capabilities for electricity and water supply as soon as possible.”, he insisted.
In Kherson, several residents told AFP of months of Russian occupation and some acts of resistance to show their disapproval of being occupied by Russia.
19-year-old Volodymyr Timor spent months with his friends analyzing the movements of Russian troops on the streets of Kherson and reporting them to the Ukrainian military.
“You watch carefully and then you go home, write it all down and send it. Absolutely everything: phones, papers, clothes,” the young man, who had aspired to be a musician before the war, told AFP.
“We told everything: where their equipment was, where they kept their ammunition, where they slept, where they went to drink”remember.
in the Lugansk region, Ukrainian army retakes the village of MakievkaThe Ukrainian president said on Monday that 50 kilometers northeast of the strategic city of Severnoetsk under Russian control.
gross, 12 towns in the region have returned to Ukrainian controlAccording to Governor Sergei Gaidai.
Agencies AFP, Associated Press and DPA