Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that the southern city of Kherson was “ours” after Russia announced that its withdrawal had been completed.
“Our people. Our people. Kherson,” Zelensky wrote on Telegram. “Today is a historic day. We are taking back Kherson.”
He said that special units of the armed forces were inside Kherson and that other Ukrainian forces were approaching the suburbs.
“The people of Kherson are waiting. They never surrendered to Ukraine,” Zelensky later added in the title of the video. “It will be the same in the cities that are still waiting for us to take them back.”
His announcement came as videos posted on social media showed jubilant crowds of locals celebrating in the streets and saluting Ukrainian soldiers as they storm the city.
The Ukrainian and European Union flags can also be seen hoisted over a monument on Kherson Main Square.
Earlier, Ukrainian intelligence spokesman Andrei Yusov told the Associated Press that an “operation to liberate Kherson” and the surrounding area of the same name was underway.
The withdrawal of Russian forces represented a major setback for Moscow, as Kherson was the only major Ukrainian regional capital to have fallen into Russia’s hands since the start of the war. The region is also a strategic gateway to Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
“Ukraine is achieving another important victory at the moment and proves that whatever Russia says or does, Ukraine will win,” said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba.
The White House described the city’s recovery as a “cool thing” for Ukraine.
“It is as if the Ukrainians have just won an extraordinary victory as the regional capital Russia captured in this war is now back under the Ukrainian flag,” National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said.
Here are the other headlines of the war in Ukraine on Friday, November 11:
Conflicting reports on the Russian withdrawal
Before the Ukrainian forces entered Kherson, the Russian Ministry of Defense announced that all its forces had withdrawn. She added that 30,000 soldiers were transported across the left bank of the Dnipro River without losing a single soldier and not leaving “a single piece of military equipment”.
But the Ukrainian Defense Intelligence Unit cast doubt on this, saying in a tweet on Twitter that more than half of the Russian forces that were stationed on the right bank of the river are still present.
Moscow announced earlier this week that it plans to withdraw its forces from the right bank of the Dnipro, where Kherson is located.
Ukrainian officials expressed skepticism about the announcement and said it would likely take days, if not weeks, for Russian forces to fully withdraw from Kherson.
Germany sends more air defense aid to Ukraine: Schulze
German Chancellor Olaf Schulz said Berlin’s priority in helping Ukraine should be strengthening air-strike defenses in cities and rebuilding infrastructure.
“Russia is bombing Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Russia wants to make sure that people in Ukraine can’t stand the winter cold,” he said in an on-stage interview with RND newspapers.
“We are currently discussing with several German companies what they can do to counter this devastation,” he added.
Schulz added that the air defense systems that Germany has provided so far have played an important role, and that Berlin will work with its partners to send more.
Earlier, the German Chancellor in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky agreed to provide more air defense systems.
Schulz also told the audience that he believed Russian President Vladimir Putin had long been planning an invasion of Ukraine.
“I am convinced that Putin decided this war two years ago,” he said. “We saw the surge…we hoped it was just threatening signals, but it wasn’t: it was a long war in the planning.”
Russia bans entry to 200 US citizens, including relatives of Biden
Moscow says it has banned entry to 200 US citizens, including brothers of President Joe Biden and several senators.
This action comes in response to Washington’s sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said the list of individuals included officials, their relatives, company heads and experts “who are involved in promoting an anti-Russian campaign and supporting the regime in Kyiv”.
Among those blacklisted are Biden’s sister Valerie and brothers James and Frances, White House press secretary Karen Jean-Pierre, and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
They join the more than 1,000 US citizens already barred from entering the country.
The governor said that a Russian strike kills 5 in Mykolaiv
A regional governor said at least five people were killed after a Russian strike hit an apartment building in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv.
The governor of the Mykolaiv region, Vitaly Kim, wrote on social media: “Raid on a five-storey apartment building. Destroyed from the fifth to the first floor.”
Russian forces have repeatedly bombed the city for months. Zelensky said the latest strike was a “cynical reaction to our successes at the front,” an apparent reference to Ukraine’s advance in the Kherson region.
The collapse of a strategic bridge near Kherson: reports
The Ukrainian Public Broadcasting Corporation reported that the already damaged Antonevsky Bridge had collapsed.
The strategic bridge was the only way to cross from Kherson to the Russian-controlled east bank of the Dnipro River.
The condition of the bridge, and the timing of its reported collapse, could help determine whether or not Russian forces withdrew from Kherson.
Russian media reports indicated that the bridge was bombed after the withdrawal of Russian forces.
But a Russian official in the Kherson region told Interfax that the bridge had not been blown up and was “in the same condition”.
UN, Russian officials discuss extending grain deal
UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said talks between Russian officials and UN chiefs were underway in Geneva in an attempt to extend an agreement on grain exports.
“It is hoped that the discussions will consolidate the progress made in facilitating the unimpeded export of food and fertilizers from the Russian Federation to world markets,” Vellucci said.
The United Nations is seeking to renew the Black Sea agreement on the export of grain from Ukraine due to expire on November 19.
Moscow has complained of “not respecting” another agreement exempting Russian fertilizers from sanctions. This deal lasts for three years.
EU and partners agree 1 billion euros to improve export routes to Ukraine
The European Union has pledged €1 billion ($1.04 billion) in support for efforts to export Ukraine’s grain crop through alternative shipping routes to Black Sea ports.
The European Commission, the European Investment Bank, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the World Bank will invest funds to improve and expand the so-called “solidarity pathways”.
The investments will expand land and sea transport between Ukraine and neighboring countries such as Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary.
It also allows Kiev to bring fuel or humanitarian aid into the country.
Before the war, Ukraine mainly traded through its large ports on the Black Sea but was surrounded by Moscow forces when the invasion began.
In July, a deal brokered by the United Nations and Turkey helped restart the flow of grain shipments. However, the necessary security guarantees are not in place for other commodities.
“Where Russia sowed destruction, Europe has restored hope,” said European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, announcing the additional funding on social media.
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