Ukrainian President Zelensky pays surprise visit to liberated city of Kherson: NPR


In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office and posted on Facebook, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy seen during his visit to Kherson, Ukraine, Monday, November 14, 2022.

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Ukrainian President Zelensky pays surprise visit to liberated city of Kherson: NPR

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office and posted on Facebook, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy seen during his visit to Kherson, Ukraine, Monday, November 14, 2022.

PA

KYIV, Ukraine — President Volodymyr Zelensky made a surprise visit Monday to the key southern city of Kherson to mark his liberation from eight months of Russian occupation.

The crowd in Kherson cheered as Zelenskyy told them: “We are coming, step by step, to our whole country.”

Zelenskyy visited front-line areas throughout the war, but usually on secret trips announced only after his coming and going.

This time, he appeared openly in front of the city’s main government building, in a military-style jacket and clothes, surrounded by heavily armed security guards. He spoke and waved to locals as Ukraine celebrates one of its greatest victories of the war.

However, the Russian troops are only a short distance away, having retreated from Kherson to the west bank of the Dnipro River to the east side. Both armies remain within artillery range of each other.

In his televised address on Sunday evening, Zelenskyy said Ukrainian investigators had already documented more than 400 cases of alleged war crimes committed by Russian forces during their occupation of Kherson.

“The Russian army left behind the same atrocities as in other parts of our country,” he said.

The Russians have previously denied committing abuses.

But Ukraine claims to have documented thousands of cases across the country, and a United Nations report released in September found evidence that the Russians killed, tortured and raped Ukrainian civilians.

Because the Russians took Kherson without a fight early in the war, most buildings in the city remained intact, unlike other urban areas which were reduced to rubble.

However, the Russians destroyed Kherson’s energy and water systems before withdrawing last week.

The city lacks electricity and heating and also urgently needs food, water and medicine. Ukrainian military and government officials are trying to restore a sense of normalcy to a city that was home to nearly 300,000 people before the war.

Officials estimate that only about a quarter of the residents were still in Kherson in the final days of the Russian occupation.

Unlike Zelenskyy, Russian President Vladimir Putin has not spoken publicly about Kherson since Russian troops abandoned the city without a fight.

Putin annexed Kherson and several other Ukrainian regions in September, declaring them permanently part of Russia.

Asked about the latest developments in Kherson, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We will refrain from commenting. You know that this territory belongs to the Russian Federation.”


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