Ukraine celebrated on Saturday the first anniversary of the liberation by its army of Kherson, “a city synonymous with hope”, a date which also marks the last major evolution of the front, the ambitious counter-offensive of Kyiv having since come up against d impenetrable Russian defenses.
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On November 11, 2022, Ukrainian forces ended eight months of occupation of this large city in southern Ukraine by Moscow’s army.
Excellent news for Kyiv, and quite a symbol: Kherson was the first major city and the only regional capital to fall into the hands of the Russians at the start of their invasion launched in February 2022.
On Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelensky paid tribute to this “city synonymous with hope”, praising its “heroism”.
“This day is one of the anniversaries that strengthen the confidence of Ukrainians in their abilities,” he assured in a video posted on his Telegram channel.
“This year, Russia took revenge for the freedom of Kherson and other of our liberated cities. The bombings are daily,” continued the president, assuring that there had been “almost 40 drones and missiles” fired against Ukraine between Friday evening and Saturday morning.
Because, even if Kherson is no longer occupied, life there remains very difficult, as in many Ukrainian regions.
The inhabitants of the southern city, who live in terror of almost daily Russian bombings, number only 60,000 according to the authorities, compared to 300,000 before the war.
And the Ukrainian forces, a year after celebrating their victory in Kherson, no longer experienced such celebrations.
The front almost froze, and the Ukrainian counter-offensive, launched in June, did not bring the hoped-for progress.
Despite this, Volodymyr Zelensky wanted to be combative on Saturday: “Like last year, we must destroy the occupier. Ukraine is doing it,” he claimed.
The commander-in-chief of the Ukrainian army, Valery Zalouzhny, also recalled on Saturday that his soldiers “continue to fight and defend our land with determination”.
He accompanied his message with a video showing residents of Kherson jubilantly welcoming Ukrainian soldiers a year ago – images in which we see a watermelon, a fruit that has become a symbol of the city’s liberation.
“I am convinced that together we will win,” promised Valery Zalouzhny.
At the beginning of November, the commander-in-chief created controversy by declaring that the war was “at an impasse” – something that both Volodymyr Zelensky and the Kremlin had firmly rejected.