President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said more Ukrainian towns and villages would be liberated amid jubilation in the recaptured southern city of Kherson.
The ukrainian leader said that after months of Russian occupation and “mocking our people”, there was a “sea of Ukrainian flags in the streets”.
“The world sees it now. It sees what it means when Ukrainians meet their own people. It sees what the unity of Ukrainians means. And it sees why we should liberate our whole country from invaders,” he said. he declared in his evening speech.
Mr Zelenskyy continued: “We will see many more such greetings. In those towns and villages that are still under occupation. We don’t forget anyone, we won’t leave anyone behind.
“Thanks to our defense operations and our diplomacy, we will certainly reach our state border – all sections of the internationally recognized border of Ukraine.”
He said Ukrainian troops had taken over more than 60 settlements in the Kherson region.
“Police have initiated stabilization measures. Stabilization measures are also underway in Kherson,” he said, noting that nearly 2,000 mines, tripwires and unexploded shells had been dealt with so far. here.
He said Putin’s forces destroyed critical infrastructure in Kherson before fleeing, adding that local authorities were beginning to stabilize the city.
But he said the Russians were fighting a much tougher fight elsewhere, describing the battles in the eastern Donetsk region as hellish.
“(The Russians) everywhere have the same goal: to humiliate people as much as possible. But we will restore everything, believe me,” he continued.
Residents jubilant greeted the troops arriving at the center of the strategic city of Kherson Friday after Russia abandoned the only regional capital it had captured since the start of the war.
Sky’s international correspondent Alex Rossi and his team were among the first foreign journalists to reach the center since the city’s recapture.
He said the city was a “party scene” and that everyone in uniform received a “hero’s welcome”.
Ukraine’s military said it was overseeing “stabilization measures” in areas around the city to ensure its safety.
Ihor Klymenko, the head of Ukraine’s national police, said in a Facebook post on Saturday that around 200 officers were at work in the city, setting up checkpoints and documenting evidence of possible war crimes.
Police teams were also working to identify and neutralize unexploded ordnance.
Ukraine’s communications watchdog said national television and radio broadcasts had resumed in the city, and an adviser to the mayor of Kherson said humanitarian aid and supplies had started arriving from the neighboring region. from Mykolaiv.
Speaking on Ukrainian television, the councilor, Roman Holovnya, described the situation in the city as a “humanitarian disaster”.
On Friday, the Ukrainian president hailed the resilience of his people and issued a warning to Russian soldiers who remained in the Kherson region.
Moscow still considers Kherson part of Russia
Moscow’s forces still control around 70% of the Kherson region and the Kremlin has insisted that the withdrawal from the city of Kherson is not embarrassing for President Vladimir Putin.
Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow continues to view the region as part of Russia.
There are fears that the departing Russians may now seek to turn Kherson into a “city of death”, by continuing to bombard it from their new base across the river – or that they may regroup before launching a attempt to take over the city.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s intelligence agency said on Friday it believed some Russian soldiers remained in Kherson, ditching their uniforms for civilian clothes to avoid detection.
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As much of the focus was on southern Ukraine, Russian forces continued their relentless offensive in industrial eastern Ukraine, targeting the town of Bakhmut in the Donetsk region.
Donetsk Governor Pavlo Kyrylenko said two civilians were killed and four injured on Saturday as fighting intensified around Bakhmut and Avdiivka, a small town that remained in Ukrainian hands throughout the war. war.