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Ukraine Providing Aid to Newly Liberated Kherson

Ukrainian soldiers ride a captured Russian APC in Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.
Ukrainian soldiers ride a captured Russian APC in Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.

Ukrainian officials Sunday began moving food, water and medicine into the southern city of Kherson, two days after Kyiv’s forces entered the strategic regional capital that Russia had captured at the start of the war and now has fled.

More than three-quarters of Kherson’s 300,000 residents had escaped the city, leaving 75,000 people to endure the Russian occupation before Moscow’s forces retreated last week and Ukrainian troops began to move in.

“Russian occupying forces and collaborators did everything possible to make those people who remained in the city suffer as hard as possible during these days of waiting, weeks of waiting, months,” an adviser to the mayor of Kherson, Roman Golovnya, said on national television.

Ukrainian forces feared that buildings in much of Kherson might have been significantly damaged, much like other cities, such as Mariupol, but found it largely intact, although with a limited water supply. Liberated, many Kherson residents gathered on the city streets in the last couple of days, waving blue and yellow Ukrainian flags in celebration.

Residents shared stories of the Russian shelling of the city but at the same time said the Ukrainian use of advanced missile systems supplied by Western allies, including the United States, seemed to disrupt Moscow’s supply lines and troop positions. They said Ukraine hit Russian positions with the aid of a network of informants.

Still, Kherson residents told of friends and family who were detained and went missing over nine months of Russian occupation.

And life is not back to normal in the most elemental ways.

Ukrainian soldiers ride a captured Russian APC in Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.
Ukrainian soldiers ride a captured Russian APC in Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022.

Golovnya said, “The city is critically lacking first of all water, because there is practically no water supply in the city. Now there is not enough medicine, there is not enough bread — it is not baked, because there is no electricity.”

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy hailed the victory of Ukrainian troops in Kherson Saturday.

In his nightly video address, Zelenskyy said that defense forces have won back control of more than 60 settlements in the Kherson region and pledged that Ukrainian troops will “liberate our entire land from the invaders.”

The Ukrainian president, however, also cautioned vigilance. While people are celebrating in Kherson, farther east in the Donetsk area, he said brutal battles are being fought every day.

“It’s hell there,” he said.

As the Russian forces withdrew from Kherson, Zelenskyy said they destroyed critical infrastructure there, including communications, the water supply, and plants supplying heat and electricity. He cautioned Kherson residents that retreating Russian soldiers had mined the area.

“Almost 2,000 explosive items have already been removed from the areas but there is a lot more to be done,” he said.

Britain’s defense ministry said Sunday in its daily intelligence update on Ukraine that Russian Education Minister Sergey Kravtsov has said that “military training will return to Russian schools, beginning in September 2023.”

This training includes “contingencies for a chemical or nuclear attack, first aid and experience handling and firing Kalashnikov rifles.”

According to the report, “Russian officials attempted to revive this training in 2014 following Russia's invasion of Crimea. It was hoped that the initiative would improve the quality of conscripts. Eight years later, little has changed, and the quality of Russian conscripts remains poor, with low morale and limited training.”

Russia is now drafting the curriculum for the training program, the report said. The development of the curriculum is expected to be completed by the end of the year and then undergo an approval process.

“This training likely intends to prepare students with military skills as they approach conscription age and to increase the takeup for mobilization and conscription drives,” the report said. “This initiative is also likely to be part of a wider project to instill an ideology of patriotism and trust in public institutions in the Russian Population."

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