By Rostyslav Averchuk
Lviv, Ukraine, Nov 12 (EFE).- Ukrainians on Saturday were celebrating the liberation of Kherson, the only major city Russia has captured since the beginning of the invasion over eight months ago.
Relief and hope a Ukraine victory could be on the horizon were somewhat clouded in Kherson as locals faced a dire humanitarian crisis following Moscow’s withdrawal.
Images of watermelons, a star product and symbol of Kherson, and videos of crowds fluttering Ukraine’s yellow and blue flag flooding the streets of the freshly liberated city have inundated social networks and the media.
Olga Afanasieva, a displaced inhabitant of Kherson, told Efe that her main concern now is how to evacuate all the people who will not be able to survive the harsh winter in the hard-hit city.
“There is no electricity, no water, no fuel,” adds her friend Liudmyla, who sends her an audio message while she moves around the city in search of a mobile phone signal.
Although Kherson is now under de facto Ukrainian control, authorities are urging residents displaced by the war to wait until it is safe to return.
According to the deputy head of the regional council, Yuriy Sobolevskyi, a sweep for mines will be carried out in the coming days and the remaining Russian soldiers will be dispersed.
Some 200 Ukrainian policemen are already in the city, deployed at checkpoints established at all its entrances, the head of the national police, Igor Klymenko, said Saturday.
The field manager of electricity supplier DTEK, Dmytro Saharuk, added that the electricity supply system has been completely wrecked by retreating Russian troops and will take a month to fully recover.
The adviser to the city’s mayor, Roman Golovnya, told reporters that the humanitarian situation in the city is “difficult”.
The lack of water is the most pressing problem since its supply has been deliberately destroyed by the Russians in their retreat, Golovnya said.
Despite this, some vehicles with humanitarian aid have arrived in the city, the official added.
According to sources from the National Resistance movement, some 15,000 pieces have been looted from the Kherson Museum of Art and other cultural institutions, to be transferred to Simferopol, an area occupied by the Russians.
Amid the joyous scenes in Kherson, renowned Ukrainian journalist Olga Tokariuk recalled the high price of freedom.
“Don’t forget at which price Ukraine is liberating our people. Volodia Koliada “Zhyvchyk” was recently KIA. He was an active Maydan protester, cyborg of the Donetsk airport, and had defended Ukraine since 2014. Rest in glory and thanks for your bravery,” she tweeted.
She spoke of the torture chambers and mass graves that have been discovered in previously occupied regions warning similar findings should be expected in Kherson, where the initial resistance was very strong.
Russian troops may also launch a massive missile and drone attack on Ukraine on the eve of or during the G20 summit in Indonesia (November 15-16), the spokesman of the Air Force Command Yuriy Ignat, said during a TV marathon on United News.
The Georgian Legion, one of the largest international military units in the Ukrainian army, has urged Ukrainians on Twitter not to ignore air raids in the coming days and recalled that Russians tend to compensate for their “military impotence by terrorizing the civilian population.”
“Today is a happy day, but the war is not over yet. Russia will retaliate against Ukrainian civilians in the coming days, there’s no doubt about that,” journalist Tokariuk warned. EFE