Ukrainian Kherson rushes to restore electricity and water after Russia pulls out


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KHERSON — Utility companies in Kherson were working to restore critical infrastructure damaged and undermined by fleeing Russian forces, with most homes in the southern Ukrainian city still without power or water, officials said on Sunday. regional managers.

Kherson Region Governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said authorities decided to maintain a curfew from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and ban people from leaving or entering the city as a safety measure.

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“The enemy has mined all critical infrastructure objects,” Yanushevych told Ukrainian television.

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“We are trying to meet in a few days and (then) open the city,” he said, adding that he hoped mobile operators could resume service soon.

Ukrainian troops arrived in central Kherson on Friday after Russia abandoned the only regional capital it had captured since its invasion began in February. The withdrawal marked the third major Russian retreat of the war and the first to involve the surrender of such a large occupied city in the face of a major Ukrainian counteroffensive which recaptured parts of the east and south.

The head of Ukrainian railways said train services to Kherson are expected to resume this week.

Another regional official, however, said while demining was underway and authorities were working to restore essential services, in humanitarian terms the situation in the town “remains very difficult”.

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“Most houses have no electricity, no water and problems with gas supply,” Yuriy Sobolevskiy, first deputy chairman of the Kherson regional council, told Ukrainian television.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said in a video address on Saturday that “before fleeing Kherson, the occupiers destroyed all essential infrastructure: communications, water, heating, electricity”.

As jubilant residents greeted Ukrainian troops arriving in Kherson, the Ukrainian General Staff reported continued heavy fighting along the eastern front in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

In the past 24 hours, his forces have repelled Russian attacks along several settlements in the two regions, he said in his morning update, while reporting Russian rocket and artillery fire in the eastern areas of Bakhmut, Avdiivka, Novopavlivka and Zaporizhzhia.

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Zelenskiy attributed Ukraine’s success in Kherson and elsewhere in part to fierce resistance in the Donetsk region despite repeated Russian attacks.

“It’s just hell there – there are extremely fierce battles there every day,” he said on Saturday.

“TWENTY YEARS YOUNGER”

Hundreds of residents lined the streets of Kherson on Saturday, waving national flags, chanting “thank you, thank you” and decorating the Ukrainian military with blue and yellow ribbons.

“It is impossible to express in words what I feel now. Never in my life before have I felt such joy as now,” said Natalia Koloba, a resident of Kherson.

“Our brothers, our protectors have come and we are free today. It’s incredible.”

Earlier on Saturday, on the road to Kherson, villagers holding flowers waited to greet and embrace Ukrainian soldiers as they streamed in to secure control of the west bank of the Dnipro following the Russian retreat.

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“We have looked 20 years younger in the last two days,” Valentyna Buhailova, 61, said just before a Ukrainian soldier jumped out of a small truck and hugged her and her partner Nataliya Porkhunuk, 66. , in a hamlet near the center of Kherson.

But volleys of artillery fire surrounded the international airport and police said they were setting up checkpoints in and around the city and searching for mines left behind.

The road to Kherson from Mykolaiv was lined with fields marked by miles of abandoned Russian trenches. A destroyed T72 tank lay with its turret overturned.

The abandoned trenches were littered with rubbish, blankets and camouflage netting. An irrigation ditch was filled with discarded Russian equipment and several anti-tank mines were visible on the side of the road.

(Reporting by David Ljjungren, Jonathan Landay, Gleb Garanich and Pavel Polityuk Writing by Clarence Fernandez and Tomasz Janowski Editing by William Mallard, Frances Kerry and David Goodman)

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