Ukrainian media are reporting that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has visited the newly liberated southern city of Kherson.
The presidential office said it could not confirm Zelensky’s visit to Kherson right away, and he had said on Facebook on Sunday that he was in his office in Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital.
However, he was photographed with troops in a central Kherson square on Monday.
Ukraine’s President, Volodymyr Zelensky, has accused Russian forces of committing “the same atrocities as in other regions of our country” before being forced to withdraw from Kherson and its environs.
In his nightly video address on Sunday, Zelensky said without details that “investigators have already documented more than 400 Russian war crimes, and the bodies of both civilians and military personnel have been found.”
“In the Kherson region, the Russian army left behind the same atrocities as in other regions of our country,” he said. “We will find and bring to justice every murderer. Without a doubt.”
The end of Russia’s eight-month occupation of Kherson city has sparked days of celebration, but it has also revealed a humanitarian crisis, with residents without power and water, as well as a lack of food and medicine. Russia still controls roughly 70% of the Kherson region as a whole.
Russian soldiers who were left behind when their military commanders abandoned the city last week, according to Zelensky, are being detained. He also mentioned, again without elaborating, the “neutralization of saboteurs.”
Ukrainian police have asked residents to assist them in identifying people who have collaborated with Russian forces.
Zelensky urged people in the liberated zone to also be alert for booby traps, saying: “Please, do not forget that the situation in the Kherson region is still very dangerous. First of all, there are mines. Unfortunately, one of our sappers was killed, and four others were injured while clearing mines.”
And he promised that essential services will be restored.
“We are doing everything to restore normal technical capabilities for electricity and water supply as soon as possible,” he said. “We will bring back transport and post. Let’s bring back an ambulance and normal medicine. Of course, the restoration of the work of authorities, the police, and some private companies are already beginning.”
Residents said departing Russian troops plundered the city, carting away loot as they withdrew last week. They also wrecked key infrastructure before retreating across the wide Dnieper River to its east bank. One Ukrainian official described the situation in Kherson as “a humanitarian catastrophe.”
The priority is to reconnect the electricity supply, with gas supplies already secured, according to Kherson regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych.
The Russian withdrawal was a watershed moment in Ukraine’s fightback against Moscow’s invasion nearly nine months ago. Ukraine’s military claimed to have retaken dozens of towns and villages north of Kherson in the last two months.
The retaking of Kherson by Ukraine was the latest in a string of battlefield humiliations for the Kremlin. It came six weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed the Kherson region and three other provinces in southern and eastern Ukraine and declared them Russian territory.