A Ukrainian official first acknowledged on Friday that the city of Kherson was “almost under the control of the Ukrainian armed forces”, but warned that some Russian troops may have remained in civilian clothes.
Serhii Khlan, a member of Ukraine’s Kherson regional council, told an online briefing that “the deoccupation of the city of Kherson and the western bank of the Dnipro is at the final stage.”
He warned that many Russian soldiers “have thrown away their military uniforms and are now hiding in civilian clothes”.
“They will plot provocations, false flag operations in the city,” he said. “There is a lot of work to be done to demine and clean up the city.”
Residents of the city of Kherson who CNN spoke to in recent weeks confirmed that many Russian soldiers were wearing civilian clothes.
Khlan also said that a large number of Russian soldiers drowned while trying to flee the city. CNN cannot confirm his claim.
“Our armed forces, under fierce assault, destroyed most of the Russians fleeing like rats to the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro,” Khlan said. “They were fleeing along the pontoons they had built under the Antonivskyi Bridge, leaving behind their equipment. Many Russians drowned.
As he retreated, he said Russian forces had detonated explosives at the Kherson power station and destroyed part of a television antenna. Photos of the destroyed TV antenna circulated this morning on Telegram.
“Now that our armed forces have effectively taken control of the right bank [western] part of the Kherson region, one can keep the left bank [eastern] part of the Kherson region under fire control, up to the Crimean Isthmus,” he said.
He said communications in the city remained extremely difficult and fuel and electricity were in short supply.
“The Ukrainian flag is raised in the city of Kherson. From now on, the Ukrainian flag will appear on all buildings in Kherson. This is what we have been dreaming of since the early days of the occupation,” he added.