Ukraine’s Kherson races to reclaim power and water after Russian retreat

  • The main infrastructure in Kherson was cut by the Russians – the governor
  • The humanitarian situation in Gerson is ‘extremely difficult’ – official
  • Officials are working to restore critical services
  • Fighting rages in eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions

Kherson, Ukraine, Nov. 13 (Reuters) – Most homes in southern Ukraine are still without electricity and running water, regional officials said on Sunday as utilities in Kherson worked to restore critical infrastructure mined by fleeing Russian forces.

Yaroslav Yanushevich, the governor of the Kherson region, said authorities had decided to impose a curfew from 5pm to 8am as a security measure, banning people from leaving or entering the city.

“The enemy has mined all important infrastructure,” Yanushevich told Ukrainian television. “We are trying to meet within a few days (and then) open the city,” he said, adding that he hoped mobile phone operators could start working on Sunday.

Ukrainian troops arrived in the center of 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 deliver such a large occupied city in the face of a major Ukrainian counter-offensive that recaptured parts of the east and south.

Head of Ukrainian State Railways, train service to Kherson is expected to resume this week.

However, as demining continues and authorities work to restore critical services, the situation in the city is “extremely difficult” in humanitarian terms, another regional official said.

“Most houses have no electricity, no water and no problems with gas supply,” First Deputy Chairman of the Kherson Regional Council, Yuriy Sobolevsky, told Ukrainian TV.

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Jubilant residents welcomed the arrival of troops in Kherson, while Ukraine’s civil servants reported continued heavy fighting on the eastern front in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Its forces have repelled Russian attacks on several settlements in both regions in the past 24 hours, it said in its morning update, while reporting Russian rocket and artillery fire in Pakmut, Avdiivka, Novopavlivka and the eastern regions of Zaporizhia.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy credited Ukraine’s victory in Kherson and elsewhere to fierce resistance in the Donetsk region, despite Russia’s continued attacks.

“It’s just hell there – every day there are very heavy battles,” he said in his usual evening video address on Saturday.

‘Twenty Years Younger’

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

“Words cannot express what I feel now. I have never felt such joy in my life before,” said Kherson resident Natalya Goloba. “Our brothers, our protectors have come and we are free today, it’s unbelievable.”

Earlier on Saturday, along the road to Kherson, villagers laden with flowers waited to greet and kiss Ukrainian soldiers as they converged to secure control of the west bank of the Dnipro River after a stunning Russian retreat.

“In the past two days we’ve become 20 years younger,” said Valentina Buhailova, 61, as a Ukrainian soldier jumped out of a small truck and hugged her and her friend, Natalya Porkunuk, 66, in a hamlet near the center of the village. Gerson.

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But artillery fire surrounded the international airport, and police said they were clearing mines left behind by setting up checkpoints in and around the city.

The road from Mykolaiv to Kherson was lined for miles by fields scarred by abandoned Russian trenches. A destroyed T72 tank with its turret tossed upside down.

Abandoned trenches were littered with rubbish, blankets and camouflage nets. An irrigation ditch was filled with abandoned Russian gear and several anti-tank mines were found on the side of the road.

Reporting by David Ljunggren, Jonathan Lande, Gleb Garanich and Pavel Polityuk Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Tomasz Janowski Editing by William Mallard and Frances Kerry

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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