- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited the southern city of Kherson after Russian troops withdrew last week.
- The city is on the brink of a humanitarian catastrophe, as many residents approach winter without electricity or water.
- Zelenskyy promised to continue and take back the remaining occupied territories of Ukraine.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy walked the streets of the newly liberated city of Kherson, celebrating Russia’s withdrawal as the “beginning of the end of the war.”
He also acknowledged on Monday the high price Ukrainian troops are paying in their effort to push back the invaders.
it was one of Ukraine’s biggest successes in the nearly nine-month war, dealing another blow to the Kremlin. It could serve as a springboard for further advances in the occupied territory.
President Joe Biden called it a “significant victory” for Ukraine.
“I can do nothing but applaud the courage, determination and capacity of the Ukrainian people, the Ukrainian army,” he said on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Indonesia.
Large parts of eastern and southern Ukraine are still under Russian control, and . Heavy fighting continued on Monday in other parts of the country.
In Kherson, Mr Zelenskyy presented soldiers with medals and posed for selfies with them while striking a defiant note.
“This is the beginning of the end of the war,” he said. “We are step by step reaching all the temporarily occupied territories.”
But he also noted with sadness that the fighting “took the best heroes of our country.”
The end of the Russian occupation of the city has . But with winter approaching, their neighbors are left without heat, water and electricity, and food and medicine are in short supply.
President Zelenskyy acknowledged that the battle “was fought by the best heroes of our country.” Source: Getty / Ukrainian government photo
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, during his visit to The Hague, warned that “we must not make the mistake of underestimating Russia.”
“The Russian armed forces retain a significant capability as well as a large number of troops, and Russia has demonstrated its willingness to endure significant losses,” he said.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to comment on Mr. Zelenskyy’s visit, saying only that “you already know that it is the territory of the Russian Federation.” Russia earlier this year.
Residents said Russian troops ransacked the town on their way out last week. They also destroyed key infrastructure before retreating across the wide Dnipro River to its eastern bank.
A Ukrainian official described the situation in Kherson as “a humanitarian catastrophe”.
Biden said he expected things to slow down militarily “due to the winter months and the inability to move around the country as easily.”
In the past two months, Ukraine’s military has claimed to have retaken dozens of towns and villages north of the city of Kherson, which is a key gateway to the southern Crimean peninsula, a region illegally annexed by Russia in 2014.
But the grinding war continued, with bombings, civilian casualties and each side reporting gains.