Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Friday that the withdrawal was complete after Russia declared the southern city of Kherson “ours”.
“Our people. Ours. Kherson,” Zelensky wrote in a telegram. “Today is a historic day. We are taking back Gerson.”
He said special units of the armed forces were inside Kherson and other Ukrainian troops were approaching from the outskirts.
“The people of Kherson are waiting. They never gave up on Ukraine,” Zelenskyy later said in a video address. “The same goes for cities that are still waiting for us to get them back.”
His announcement came as videos posted on social media showed jubilant crowds of locals celebrating in the streets and greeting Ukrainian soldiers as they rolled into town.
Ukrainian and EU flags can also be seen flying over a monument in Kherson’s main square.
Earlier, Ukraine’s intelligence spokesman Andriy 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 significant setback for Moscow, as the city of Kherson was the only major Ukrainian regional capital to fall into Russian hands since the start of the war. The region is also a strategic gateway to the Crimean peninsula, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014.
“Ukraine has now won another important victory, proving that no matter what Russia says or does, Ukraine will win,” Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said.
The White House said the recapture of the city was a “significant thing” for Ukraine.
National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan said, “It looks like the Ukrainians have scored an extraordinary victory in this war where a regional capital that was captured by Russia is now back under the Ukrainian flag.”
Here are other major headlines from the war in Ukraine on Friday, November 11:
Conflicting reports of Russian withdrawal
Before Ukraine’s forces entered the city of Kherson, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that all its troops had withdrawn. It said 30,000 troops were transferred to the left bank of the Dnipro River without losing a single soldier and leaving “not a single piece of military equipment”.
But Ukraine’s Defense Intelligence Service denied this, saying in a tweet that more than half of the Russian forces stationed on the right bank of the river were still there.
Moscow announced earlier this week that it plans to withdraw its forces from the right bank of the Dnipro, where the city of Kherson is located.
Ukrainian officials expressed skepticism at the announcement and said it would be days, if not weeks, before Russian troops fully withdraw from Kherson.
Germany to send air defense aid to Ukraine: Scholz
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said Berlin’s priority in helping Ukraine was to strengthen air defenses in cities and rebuild infrastructure.
“Russia is bombing Ukraine’s energy infrastructure. Russia wants to make sure that people in Ukraine cannot escape the winter cold,” he told RND newspapers on stage.
“We are currently discussing with several German companies what we can do to counter this destruction.”
The air defense systems that Germany has provided so far have played an important role, and Berlin will deploy more with its partners, Schalz said.
Earlier, the German chancellor agreed in a call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to provide more air defense systems.
Scholz also told the audience that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin has been planning to invade Ukraine for a long time.
“I believe Putin decided on this war two years ago,” he said. “We saw the troop build-up … We believed it was threatening gestures, but it wasn’t: it was a long time in the planning.”
Russia has banned the entry of 200 US citizens, including Biden’s relatives
Moscow says it has banned the entry of 200 US citizens, including siblings of President Joe Biden and several senators.
The move 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 close relatives, heads of organizations and experts “engaged in promoting Russophobic propaganda and supporting the regime in Kiev”.
Those blacklisted include Biden’s sister Valerie and brothers James and Francis, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre and Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
They join more than 1,000 US citizens already barred from entering the country.
The governor of Mykolaiv said that 5 people were killed in the Russian attack
A Russian attack on a residential building in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv has killed at least five people, a regional governor said.
“A strike on a five-story residential building. From the 5th to the 1st floor was destroyed,” Mykolaiv regional governor Vitaly Kim wrote on social media.
Russian forces have been besieging the city for months. Zelenskyy said the latest strike was “a cynical response to our successes on the front line,” apparently referring to Ukraine’s advances in the Kherson region.
Strategic bridge collapse near Kherson: reports
Ukraine’s public broadcaster reported that the already damaged Antonivskiy bridge had collapsed.
The strategic bridge is the only road from Kherson to the Russian-controlled east bank of the Dnipro River.
The position of the bridge and the timing of its collapse will help determine whether or not the Russian forces withdrew from the city of Kherson.
Russian media reported that the bridge was shelled after Russian troops withdrew.
But a Russian-based official in the Kherson region told Interfax that the bridge had not been blown up and was “in the same condition”.
UN and Russian officials discuss extending grain deal
UN spokeswoman Alessandra Vellucci said talks were underway in Geneva between Russian officials and UN leaders to try to extend the agreement on grain exports.
“It is hoped that these discussions will lead to progress in the unhindered export of food and fertilizers from the Russian Federation to world markets,” Vellucci said.
The Black Sea Agreement to export grain from Ukraine will expire on November 19, the UN said.
Moscow has complained that another deal exempting Russian fertilizers from sanctions was “not respected”. The contract will last for three years.
EU, partners agree €1 billion to improve Ukraine export routes
The European Union has given a €1 billion ($1.04 billion) boost to efforts to export Ukraine’s grain harvest via alternative cargo 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 the funds to develop and expand so-called “solidarity corridors”.
These investments will expand land and inland waterway transport between Ukraine and neighboring countries Poland, Romania, Moldova, Slovakia and Hungary.
They also allow Kiev to bring fuel or humanitarian aid into the country.
Before the war, Ukraine traded mainly through its large Black Sea ports, but these were blocked by Moscow’s forces when the invasion began.
In July, a UN-brokered deal with Turkey helped resume the flow of grain exports. However, other products do not have the necessary safety guarantees.
“Where Russia sows destruction, Europe restores hope,” European Commission President Ursula van der Leyen announced the additional funding on social media.
mm, fb/wmr (AFP, AP, Reuters)
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