President Volodymyr Zelensky stated that Russian forces destroyed important infrastructure in the Ukrainian city of Kherson before fleeing, while his colleagues in Russia and Iran swore to strengthen economic, political, and trade connections.
Zelensky characterized as terrible the fights in the eastern province of Donetsk, as where pro-Moscow forces were putting up a much stronger fight after Russia abandoned the only regional capital it had secured since the conflict began in February.
Residents of Kherson greeted the arrival of the troops with jubilation, while Zelensky said that in a bid to stabilize the region, authorities had removed roughly 2,000 mines, trip wires, and unexploded shells left by the retreating Russians.
Russians "everywhere have the same objective: to humiliate as many people as possible." "But everything will be restored, believe me," Zelensky said in a Sunday video message.
Before abandoning Kherson, the occupants devastated the city's communications, water, heating, and electrical systems.
Zelensky stated that resistance in the Donetsk region, despite repeated Russian assaults, contributed to Ukraine's triumph in Kherson, where its troops currently control more than 60 regional settlements, as well as in other locations.
Every day there are incredibly violent battles, he explained. However, our forces are defending valiantly; they are withstanding the invaders' tremendous pressure and preserving our defensive lines.
In a phone conversation on Saturday, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi emphasized "further increasing cooperation in the political, commercial, and economic spheres, particularly the transport and logistics sector," according to the Kremlin.
During the battle, Russia intensified its efforts to forge ties with Iran and other non-Western nations. On Wednesday, a senior Russian security official met with Iranian leaders in Tehran.
The visit followed Ukraine and Western charges that Russia targeted Ukraine's energy infrastructure with Iranian drones.
Iran claims it delivered a small number of drones to Russia before the outbreak of hostilities. Two senior Iranian officials and two Iranian diplomats told Reuters last month that Iran had pledged to deliver surface-to-surface missiles to Russia.
According to a summary of a Saturday discussion between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba in Phnom Penh, Ukraine will determine the timing and content of any framework for negotiations with Russia.
The Washington Post reported a week ago that the Biden administration quietly urged Ukraine's leaders to express a willingness to deal with Russia and withdraw their public rejection to engage in peace negotiations until Putin was removed from power.
Moscow refers to its actions in Ukraine as a "special military operation" intended to demilitarize and "denazify" its smaller neighbor. Kyiv and its allies assert that Russia's invasion, which has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands and the displacement of millions, was unprovoked and illegitimate.
'Twenty years younger'
On the route to Kherson, Saturday, people clutching flowers waited to embrace and kiss Ukrainian soldiers as they poured in to seize control of the right bank of the Dnieper River following the spectacular Russian withdrawal.
"We've grown 20 years younger in the last two days," remarked Valentyna Buhailova, 61, moments before a Ukrainian soldier hugged her and her companion Nataliya Porkhunuk, 66, in a village near the center of Kherson.
However, artillery fire encircled the international airport, and police claimed they were building up checkpoints around the city and searching for mines.
As locals celebrated their independence on what Zelenskiy termed a "historic day," the mayor stated that the humanitarian situation was "serious" due to a scarcity of water, medicine, and bread.
"The city faces a severe water scarcity," said Mayor Roman Holovnia on television. There are currently insufficient quantities of medicine and bread due to a lack of electricity.
Renowned graffiti artist Banksy presented on Instagram a painting depicting a female gymnast attempting a handstand on a small mound of concrete rubble in the Ukrainian city of Borodyanka, which was held by Russia until April and severely destroyed in the early days of combat.
Alina Mazur, 31, drove 60 kilometers from Kyiv, the capital, to witness the event. "This is such a historic moment for our country that Banksy and other great figures are exposing the world what Russia has done to us," she said.
However, the road from Mykolaiv to Kherson was flanked by kilometers of abandoned Russian trenches. A ruined T72 tank lay on the ground with its turret inverted.
The abandoned trenches were covered in garbage, blankets, and camouflage netting. A drainage ditch was packed with abandoned Russian equipment, and several anti-tank mines were visible along the roadside.
According to residents in the settlement of Kiselivka, the Russians departed Wednesday night.
"They did not fire any shots," stated 54-year-old scooter driver Hyhory Kulyaka. They were suddenly gone.