Ukraine: Crowds raise Ukrainian flags in Kherson following Russian forces withdrawal

Russia has relinquished its final foothold in a major city in southern Ukraine, allowing Ukrainian forces to move cautiously towards reclaiming the country’s only Russian-occupied provincial capital.

Russia’s Defence Ministry said its troops finished withdrawing from the western bank of the river that divides Ukraine’s Kherson region at 5am local time.

The area they left included the city of Kherson, the only provincial capital Russia had captured during its nearly nine-month invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have not confirmed the city was back in Ukrainian hands. A spokesperson for Ukraine’s military intelligence agency said “an operation to liberate Kherson” and the surrounding region of the same name was under way.

“But it will be possible to talk about establishing Ukrainian control over the city only after an official report by the General Staff” of the Ukrainian army, Andriy Yusov told The Associated Press.

Ukrainian intelligence urged Russian soldiers who might still be in the city to surrender in the anticipation of Kyiv’s forces arriving.

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