Ukrainian forces took control of Kherson. Previously, Kremlin soldiers managed the militarily delicate retreat across the Dnieper with surprising ease. Images of overwhelming joy come from the liberated Ukrainian territories.
Events in the southern Ukrainian province of Kherson collapsed on Friday. After the Russian military leadership announced a withdrawal from all areas west of the Dnieper on Wednesday, the last major troops crossed the river overnight into the following day. Russia thus largely cleared an area of about 4,000 square kilometers without a fight. According to unconfirmed reports, there are still some Russian troops and scattered troops in the West Bank, but nothing is known about organized resistance.
Ukrainian armed forces were thus able to quickly advance towards the capital of Kherson province from different directions during Friday. On one side they pressed upstream from the west, in the area where the Dnieper flows into the Black Sea, and by noon they reached the western edge of the city, which once had a population of 300,000. On the other hand, they controlled more and more areas downstream from the east, incl The city of Berislav near the strategically important Dnieper dam.
celebrations in liberated places
Even before Ukrainian troops arrived in Kherson, civilians expressed a nightly handover of power. First one, then another, and more Ukrainian flags appeared in the central squares and in front of the regional administration buildings. His pictures quickly spread on social networks. When the first soldiers arrived in the city center, they were enthusiastically celebrated.
Ukrainian armed forces are greeted with cheers in Kherson.
The relief at the end of Russia’s terrorist regime can also be felt in the numerous videos that were filmed in the agricultural area around Kherson after the liberation. Some villagers thanked the arriving Ukrainian soldiers profusely. Others applauded as brief ceremonies announced the return of Ukrainian state power.
In the long-fought city of Snihurivka, the liberators receive applause.
The fear that the highly officially announced withdrawal could be a Russian trap did not materialize in any way. But fears of ambushes or mined transport routes probably contributed to the fact that the Ukrainians did not advance even faster. The military leadership in Kiev appears to have been surprised by the rapid Russian withdrawal. This will take a week, Defense Minister Olexi Resnikov predicted on Thursday.
In fact, it is impossible for Russia to evacuate 20,000 men and 3,500 military vehicles across the Dnieper in less than two days, according to a war reporter for Moscow’s state television. Since evacuation was mainly done by ferry, there would never be enough time. But the Russians succeeded in a well-organized deception maneuver. They may have put most of their troops across the river in night movements before announcing their withdrawal.
Yet it belongs in the realm of propaganda when the Ministry of Defense in Moscow claims that it pulled out without casualties and took all weapons with it. The Ukrainians shelled the return transports daily; Attacks by high-precision Himars rocket launchers were also reported on Friday evening. The number of Russian casualties and those soldiers who did not get into one of the limited transports cannot yet be estimated.
Road bridge destroyed
A possible escape route was finally blocked early Friday morning: the Antonivka bridge near Kherson was blown up for several tens of meters by the retreating Russians. The 1.4-kilometer-long structure, one of only three bridges over the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine, had previously been damaged by Ukrainian artillery fire and blocked traffic, but pedestrians were still able to walk on it. Now the road has completely collapsed in two places. As satellite images The Russians also blew up a nearby railway bridge.
Antonivka road bridge near Kherson, which was destroyed on Friday.
The destruction of the bridges symbolizes that Russia has given up hope of regaining a foothold on the west bank of the Dnieper in the near future. Rather, the action underscores the fear that Ukrainian troops could continue to advance south — to the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed in 2014.
That cannot be expected for now. Although Ukrainian saboteurs are said to be moving into the Russian-occupied hinterland, military experts say that Kiev’s troops are not capable of a major offensive across the Dnieper. The river will thus become a natural border between the warring parties for the foreseeable future. However, the Ukrainians have the opportunity, as before, to launch their rocket artillery deep into enemy territory and thereby disrupt the supply of Crimea.