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Raising the Ukrainian flag in Kherson: “The occupiers are expelled”

Kyiv has long opposed Russian claims to withdraw from the areas on the western side of the Dnieper River. But on Friday afternoon, confirmation came from the Defense Ministry that Ukrainian forces had entered the major city of Kherson, according to information verified by AFP and the BBC.

“It is not the enemy who is leaving. It is the Ukrainians who are expelling the occupiers at any cost,” declared President Zelensky via Telegram, while warning of landmines and Russian snipers.

Loss denial

The Kremlin reports that all units have now reached the Russian-controlled lands on the eastern side of the Dnieper River. According to official propaganda, the withdrawal should have taken place without material or human losses.

On the contrary, it was reported from elsewhere that it had turned into a mess. The wounded are said to have been left to their fate and the fleeing Russian soldiers are said to have been in civilian clothes while Ukrainian artillery actively fired on the pontoon bridges and ferries crossing the river.

In total, at least 41 communities in the area are said to have been liberated and secured. In the recently captured Belozerka, citizens can be seen welcoming Ukrainian soldiers and helping to pull down billboards with Russian messages.

Destroy an important bridge

Rumors abound but photos show that the important Antonivka Bridge was destroyed, most likely by the Russians. The next bridge over the Dnieper River is seven miles away, so the continuing Ukrainian offensive to the east faces its first major obstacle.

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However, the main part of Kherson Oblast is still under Russian control. And despite the retreat, the Kremlin still claims that the entire region is part of Russia.

“Kherson is subject to the Russian Federation – it is established by law and cannot be changed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Friday. Therefore, he asserts that annexation, which contravenes international law, applies.

According to Reuters, it is the first official statement issued by the Russian high command since the indirect recognition on Wednesday of the successful counterattack of Ukraine.

“There is nothing to add,” Peskov replied when asked to comment on the withdrawal order.

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Hear the SVT team in Ukraine about the latest news on the situation in Kherson. picture: Lars Lyrefeldt/SVT Images via Konstantin Reskenko