Volodymyr Zelenskyy visits the liberated Ukrainian city of Kherson

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy visited Kherson on Monday, commemorating the days of retaking the southern city after Russian troops withdrew.

“This is the beginning of the end of the war,” Zelenskyy told soldiers in Kherson’s main square. “We are moving step by step to all temporarily occupied territories.”

Zelenskyy emphasized the role of Western weapons – especially the advanced US-made Himar missile systems – in the counterattack, one of the most important. Russia’s biggest failure since it launched its full-scale invasion in February. He also warned that it would take time to restore essential services as well as law and order in the city.

Asked about the visit, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said: “We will not comment on this matter. You know this territory is part of the Russian Federation.

Zelenskyy also presided over the raising Ukrainian flags in Kherson Square as the national anthem is played, according to a video released by Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the president’s deputy chief of staff.

In photos released by his office with the caption “Kherson – Ukraine”, Zelenskyy is seen walking around Khersonmain square, welcoming soldiers and residents. One photo shows the Ukrainian and EU flags flying together.

Zelenskyy and other officials have warned that it will take time to recover essential services for Kherson and ensure the safety of the inhabitants living there again after more than eight months of Russian occupation. In an overnight speech, he said 100,000 local residents remained in Kherson and pledged to restore law and order. He said investigators have documented more than 400 Russian war crimes.

Ukraine has accused Russia of committing war crimes in other areas it has recaptured such as Izyum in northeastern Kharkiv . provincebut Western officials fear the scale of atrocities in Kherson could be quite serious, given the length of time it was under Russian control, Moscow’s efforts to assimilate the city and its values. its status as the only regional capital captured during the conflict.

Zelenskyy said Ukrainian investigators have documented more than 400 potential Russian war crimes in parts of the Kherson region that Ukrainian forces have recaptured. “Bodies of both civilians and soldiers are being found,” he said. “The Russian military has left behind the same atrocities as in other parts of our country.

Yevhen Yenin, of the Interior Ministry, said Kyiv’s forces had discovered torture chambers inside police departments, according to the Ukrainska Pravda news agency.

Ukraine is accelerating efforts to restore vital services such as communications to Kherson. Mykhailo Fedorov, minister of digital transformation, post picture on Twitter shows residents using Starlink satellite internet terminal around the main square.

Officials have warned residents that Kherson and the surrounding areas remain dangerous. The General Staff of Ukrainian Forces said there was a “high level of danger of mines and mines” and increased Russian aerial reconnaissance in the area, suggesting that Russia may be planning attacks in the region. future.

Russian forces still control large swaths of territory in the Kherson region east of the Dnipro River and are working to consolidate positions.

Elsewhere, Russia is conducting offensive operations in Donetsk, with Mr Zelenskyy saying “extremely brutal battles” are being fought daily in the eastern province, which remains largely under control. control of the occupying forces. Russian forces are trying to get close to Bakhmut, Avdiyivka and Novopavlivka, the general staff said.

Additional reporting by Max Seddon in Riga

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