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.

Amid their jubilation, some townspeople recounted mistreatment by the Russians during their occupation of Kherson.

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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. « We try to meet in a few days and (then) open the city, » he said.

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.

Artillery exchanges echoed through the city on Sunday, but they failed to deter crowds of jubilant residents waving flags bundled up against the cold from gathering in Kherson’s main square. The crowd attempted to pick up mobile phone signals from Starlink ground stations carried by Ukrainian military vehicles.

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« We are happy now, but we are all afraid of the shelling from the left bank, » said Yana Smyrnova, 35, a singer, referring to Russian guns on the east bank of the Dnipro River which flows near the city.

Smyrnova said she and her friends had to draw water from the river for bathing and flushing the toilet, and only a few residents were lucky enough to have generators that power pumps to draw water. well water.

Local authorities said most of the town lacked electricity or water. Yuriy Sobolevskiy, first deputy chairman of the Kherson regional council, told Ukrainian television that although authorities were working to restore essential services, the humanitarian situation remained « very difficult ».


Some of those celebrating in Kherson’s main square, however, said the troubles paled in comparison to the joy of seeing Ukrainian troops enter the city.

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« When we saw our army, all problems with water and electricity disappeared, » said Yana Shaposhnikova, 36, a clothing designer. “And the explosions aren’t that scary. Our boys and girls (troops) are here. So it’s not that scary.

Officials reported early progress in restoring normalcy to the city.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s adviser Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on the Telegram messaging app that a mobile connection was already working in the city center, while the head of Ukraine’s railways said train services to Kherson should resume this week.

Residents said the Russians had withdrawn gradually over the past two weeks, but their final departure only became clear when the first Ukrainian troops entered Kherson on Thursday.

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« It was a progressive thing, » said Alexii Sandakov, 44, a videographer. “Their special police left first. Then the ordinary police and its administration. Then you started seeing less soldiers in supermarkets and then their military vehicles moving away.

Many residents interviewed by Reuters said they had tried to minimize their contact with Russians and knew of people arrested and mistreated for showing any expression of Ukrainian patriotism.

Reuters could not immediately verify these accounts.

Russia has denied abuses against civilians or attacks on civilians since the start of the war.

« We had to bury our (Ukrainian) flag underground, » said Shaposhnikova, who sported a New York Yankees baseball cap. « If you wore anything yellow and blue (Ukrainian national colors), you could be shot or invited to a cellar where you would be tortured. »

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She said Russian police arrested a friend of hers who was a volunteer providing humanitarian aid in outlying areas. They took her to an underground prison and deprived her of sleep for three days while interrogating her, demanding to know if she revealed their positions to the Ukrainian military, Shaposhnikova said.

Sandakov said Russian troops looted the homes of Ukrainian soldiers who left the city before the takeover and would inspect the bodies of young men passing through checkpoints for tattoos of Ukrainian nationalist groups.

Reuters could not independently verify these comments.


Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said it had taken over 179 settlements and 4,500 square kilometers (1,700 square miles) along the Dnipro River since the start of the week.

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The General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine reported continued heavy fighting along the eastern front in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Over the past 24 hours, Ukrainian forces have repelled Russian attacks along several settlements in both regions, the general staff said in its daily update.

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.

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



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