Kherson: Russians bomb Ukraine city just two weeks after withdrawing



Kherson, Ukraine
CNN

A pool of blood-stained water and the charred wreckage of a car mark the spot in Kherson where Russian shells slammed into the town on Thursday, killing four people, local officials say, and shattering any sense of calm .

Russian President Vladimir Putin claims he annexed this region and people here are now Russians. But his troops are gone, and now they are killing the civilians they were once sworn to protect.

Amid severe electricity and water shortages, the people of Kherson are suffering, and with winter fast approaching, the situation will only get worse.

Shortly after the start of the invasion of Ukraine, Kherson was taken by Russian forces, only emerging from months of occupation on November 11 when Kremlin troops withdrew. Today, residents are experiencing the kind of violence that so many across the country experience.

At a small grocery store also destroyed by the recent bombings, a desperate resident searches through the rubble for leftover food and toilet paper rolls, salvaging what little he can to survive.

“Is everything so bad?” we request. “It’s not good,” he replies darkly.

A man fills containers with water from the Dnipro River, with Russian-held territory just across the waterway.

This town’s water supply has been cut off by the Russian attack, so we watch an elderly woman on the street place a bucket under a drainpipe to catch a weak drop.

Others, like Tatiana, who preferred not to give her last name, take the hazardous walk to the bank of the Dnipro on which this city is located.

Russian forces still control the opposite bank and the strategic river now marks the front line with Russian forces a few hundred meters away.

Tatiana fills two black plastic buckets, then plods back up the hill to her house. “How can we live without water? We need it to wash, for the toilet, to wash the dishes,” she says. “What can we do? We can’t live without water. So we come here.

The boom in artillery exchanges between Russian and Ukrainian forces resounds in the background. This is not a place to hang out.

Residents of Kherson charge their phones in a tent provided by the local administration.
Hanna, right, and her daughter Nastya sit together in the phone charging tent.

Just two weeks ago, the city’s central square was the scene of jubilation after Russia’s withdrawal, one of Moscow’s biggest setbacks in this war.

Today, the tents set up by the local administration are monuments to the various hardships here. One is for warming up, the other for charging phones, and the other for helping those who are fed up and want to leave completely.

In the charging tent, people of all ages crowd around the tables, sip tea and plug into the infinitely daisy-chained power strips. The air is loaded with body heat and respiration.

Hanna and her daughter Nastya are sitting on a cot. It was the girl’s ninth birthday the day before, and she adorned herself with a Ukrainian print and a flag draped over her shoulders.

“It was very tough – we went through the whole occupation,” says Hanna. “I can say that we live much better now. No water, no electricity, but also no Russians. It’s nothing. We can get out of this. »

After months of occupation, Nastya shares the challenge of the adults around her. “I think our enemies will all die soon,” she said. “We will show them what you get if you occupy Ukraine.”

This challenge is also felt by those outside the city, who have avoided occupation but lived on the front lines of battle.

Valeriy, 51, and his wife Natalia, 50, hid in their potato cellar this spring when Russian shells landed on their dairy farm, tearing through their kitchen and destroying a tractor and a car.

Their roots here are deep. “Our umbilical cords are buried here,” Natalia says, using a Ukrainian expression. But when the fighting got too fierce, they abandoned their home and their beloved cows to war, recently returning after months in exile.

Valeriy shows a piece of the Russian shell that landed in his yard.

“What is our life like? Great!” Natalia laughs as she washes the dishes with water heated on a stove. “It’s very difficult. But at least we’re home.

Valeriy wields a large piece of metallic shrapnel – all that’s left of the missile that landed in her yard.

“We lived peacefully and quietly,” he says. “We were working, earning money. Some grew crops, others had farm animals.

Seeing what happened to his village is “like a stone weighing on my soul”, he said.

“Everything we have won and built, we have done with our own hands. Now it’s very difficult to come back and see what the Russian scum did to us. I have no other word for them.

But he returned to a good surprise. His beloved cows – left to roam the fields for months – had survived.

“I gave them a hug!” he said, hugging them again, with a broad smile. “I felt joy! They survived. I was so worried about them.


cnn

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