Zelenskyy tells Russian soldiers in Kherson…. The only chance for salvation is to surrender


President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has urged the Russian occupiers remaining in Kherson Oblast to surrender, as it is the only chance for them to save their lives.

“I would like to separately address those Russian soldiers, mercenaries and collaborators who were left behind in Kherson and other cities of the south. The only chance for salvation for you is to surrender to Ukrainian captivity.

“We guarantee that you will be treated in accordance with the law and international standards. And to those Russian soldiers who have put on civilian clothes and are hiding somewhere I want to say that there is no point in hiding. We’ll find you anyway. Don’t drag it out. Being taken to Ukrainian captivity is the only option for all occupiers.”

Meanwhile, jubilant residents welcomed Ukrainian troops arriving in the centre of Kherson on Friday after Russia abandoned the only regional capital it had captured since its invasion began in February.

“Today is a historic day. We are getting the south of the country back, we are getting Kherson back,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said in an evening video address.

“As of now, our defenders are on the outskirts of the city, and we are very close to entering. But special units are already in the city,” he added.

The Ukrainian military carried out “stabilization measures” near the southern city of Kherson on Saturday following the end of an eight-month occupation by Russian forces, a retreat that cast a further pall on President Vladimir Putin’s designs to take over large parts of Ukraine.

Residents of Kherson, the only regional capital captured by Russia’s military during the ongoing invasion, awoke from a night of jubilant celebrating that broke out in the city and surrounding areas after the Kremlin announced its troops had withdrawn to the other side of the Dnieper River.

In a regular social media update Saturday, the General Staff of Ukraine’s armed forces said the Russians were fortifying their battle lines on the river’s eastern bank after abandoning the capital. About 70% of the Kherson region remains under Russian control.

Ukrainian officials from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on down cautioned that while special military units had reached Kherson city, a full deployment to reinforce the advance troops still was underway. On Friday, Ukraine’s intelligence agency said it thought some Russian soldiers stayed behind, ditching their uniforms for civilian clothes to avoid detection.

“Even when the city is not yet completely cleansed of the enemy’s presence, the people of Kherson themselves are already removing Russian symbols and any traces of the occupiers’ stay in Kherson from the streets and buildings,” Zelenskyy said in his nightly video address late Friday.

Photos circulating Saturday on social media showed Ukrainian activists removing memorial plaques put up by the occupation authorities the Kremlin installed to run the Kherson region. A Telegram post on the channel of Yellow Ribbon, a self-described Ukrainian “public resistance” movement, showed two people in a park taking down plaques picturing what appeared to be Soviet-era military figures.

In the last two months, Ukraine’s military claimed to have reclaimed dozens of towns and villages north of Kherson city, and the Ukrainian General Staff said that’s where the stabilization activities were taking place.

The Russian retreat represented a significant setback for the Kremlin some six weeks after Putin annexed the Kherson region and three others provinces in southern and eastern Ukraine in breach of international law and in the face of widespread condemnation. The Russian leader unequivocally asserted the illegally claimed areas as Russian territory.

Russian state news agency TASS quoted an official in Kherson’s Kremlin-appointed administration on Saturday as saying that Henichesk, a city on the Azov Sea some 200 kilometers southeast of Kherson city, would serve as the region’s “temporary capital” after the withdrawal across the Dnieper.

Ukrainian media derided the announcement, with daily newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda saying Russia “had made up a new capital” for the region.

Like Zelenskyy, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba sought to temper the excitement over the invaded nation’s latest morale boost., “We are winning battles on the ground, but the war continues,” he said from Cambodia, where he was attending a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

Kuleba also brought up the prospect of the Ukrainian army finding evidence of possible Russian war crimes in Kherson, just as it did after the Russian Defense Ministry pulled back its forces in the Kyiv and Kharkiv regions earlier in the way.—Agencies


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