Ukrainian troops are greeted with flowers in Kherson after the Russian retreat

Klabaya, Ukraine, Nov. 12 (Reuters) – Villagers carrying flowers waited on the road to the southern city of Kherson to greet and kiss Ukrainian soldiers on Saturday for control of the right bank of the Dnipro River. Back off.

Incoming and outgoing artillery fire continued around Kherson’s international airport, and police said they were setting up checkpoints in and around the city and clearing landmines left by the Russians.

The mayor said the humanitarian situation was “dire” with shortages of water, medicine and bread in the city, where residents celebrated their liberation on what President Volodymyr Zelensky called a “historic day” on Friday.

In the hamlet of Klapaya, about 10 km from Kherson’s center, Nataliya Porkhunuk, 66, and Valentyna Buhailova, 61, stood on the edge of a rutted road with freshly picked flowers, smiling and waving to passing Ukrainian troops. .

“In the past two days we’ve become 20 years younger,” Buhaylova said, as a Ukrainian soldier jumped out of a small truck and hugged the pair.

Outside the village of Chornobayivka, near Kherson, a Reuters reporter saw incoming Russian fire as cluster munitions hit a nearby airport. After a while a volley of fire came from the Ukrainian side.

Reuters reporters were turned away by soldiers near the outskirts of Kherson and said it was too dangerous.

An officer was injured while clearing a mine in an administrative building in Kherson, police said.

“The city has a critical water shortage,” Mayor Roman Holovnia told TV. “At the moment there is not enough medicine, not enough bread because it cannot be baked: there is no electricity.”

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Road to Kherson

The road from Mykolaiv to Kherson was lined for miles with fields of abandoned Russian trenches. A destroyed T72 tank with its turret tossed upside down.

Abandoned trenches were littered with rubbish, blankets and camouflage nets. An irrigation ditch was filled with abandoned Russian gear and several anti-tank mines were found on the side of the road.

In the hamlet of Glabaya, Borgunuk said the village had been occupied by pro-Moscow Ukrainian troops from the Russian-occupied Donetsk region for the past nine months. houses”.

But two weeks later, Russian soldiers captured Klabaya and told the villagers to look for “Nazis, and Banderites, and American biolabs,” to which he replied: “If you want to look for them, look elsewhere and go home.”

Russian troops warned, “If we find you are hiding Ukrainian soldiers, we will raze your house and village to the ground.” He said the invaders also ransacked houses where their residents had fled.

Moscow describes its actions in Ukraine as a “special military operation”. Ukraine harbors dangerous far-right groups and unproven allegations that Ukraine has supplied US-run biological weapons facilities.

Kiev and its allies say Russia’s invasion, which has killed tens of thousands and uprooted millions, was unprovoked and illegal.

In the nearby village of Kiselivka, teenagers stood on a dusty corner with a sign on a closet door that read “Kherson” on it and an arrow pointing to a detour around a destroyed bridge on the main highway from Mykolaiv.

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“We came here because we wanted to help in some way. So, a few hours ago, we made the sign,” said 17-year-old Artem.

Villagers said the Russians left on Wednesday night.

“They didn’t fire any shots,” said Haihori Kulyaga, 54, who was riding a scooter. “They just left.”

Report by Jonathan Lande; Written by Tom Balmforth; Editing: Christina Fincher

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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