Euphoria as Kherson liberated from Russian control – but war is far from over

World

It is a moment they’ve longed to see – and the euphoria of liberation has been impossible to contain.

In Kherson, Ukrainian soldiers were given a heroes’ welcome as the crowds chanted for the military.

It was the only regional capital captured by Russia, but in another sign that Vladimir Putin‘s invasion is failing, it’s now apparently back under Kyiv’s control.

At the police headquarters, there was also joy.

Ukraine news live: Russians ‘drown’ in chaotic retreat – and Putin told ‘he will lose Kremlin’

The blue and yellow of the national flag flying proudly once again.

The speed of Ukraine‘s advance on the southern front has been staggeringly fast.

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They were here across swathes of territory and then they were gone – endless trenches along the roads simply abandoned.

A soldier takes a selfie with civilians to mark the end of nine frightening months of occupation.
Image:
A soldier takes a selfie with civilians to mark the end of nine frightening months of occupation

In newly liberated villages, women wanted photographs with the troops – selfies with soldiers ending nine frightening months of occupation.

For Halyna, in Blahodatne less than 20 kilometres from Kherson, it’s an emotional time.

“Amazing! Amazing! I’ve never felt better,” she tells Sky News.

“Our boys are everything to us. We waited for them for a long time and welcomed them. Terrifing, terrifying.”

And as people adjust to their new freedom, there has been an outpouring of national pride.

Yuri told Sky News he could not believe the Russians have left.
Image:
Yuri told Sky News he could not believe the Russians have left

Yuri drives around the village with two Ukrainian flags waving from his motorcycle and sidecar. As he stops, he tells me he can’t believe the Russians have left.

“You never know what’s on their mind. There were different ones. There were those who were very aggressive. People were even afraid to go outside.

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Jubilation in Kherson

“There were a lot of them. And they settled everywhere. At school, in kindergarten, everywhere. There were many of them in the village, very many.”

But these areas are still far from safe – the soldiers here say they’ve already removed more than 300 mines around the village.

In a bunker system which runs under the village, Serhii, one of the soldiers who helped take back control of the area, shows me rows of mortars.

Mortars in Kherson

He says the Russian’s had no choice but to leave in a hurry and it won’t be long before the rest of the country is liberated.

Read more:
Explained: Why Ukraine reclaiming Kherson from Russia matters
Russia’s Kherson retreat is ‘encouraging’ but too soon for conclusions, NATO chief says

“For us, this means that victory is very close. We are winning. We have already felt and feel this taste of victory. We are unstoppable.

“Their morale and psychological state is very low. Their quality is very low. I understand that their mobilized troops were here”

The Russian retreat in the south is another humiliation for Moscow, abandoned positions and uniforms now the symbols of a botched invasion.

This win for Ukraine is a big moment, but this war is far from over.

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