The president of Ukraine has vowed to continue pushing Russian forces out of his country after they withdrew from Kherson, leaving behind devastation, hunger, and booby traps.
The Russian withdrawal from Kherson marked a significant victory in Ukraine's nearly nine-month-old resistance against Moscow's invasion. In jubilant scenes, residents of Kherson embraced and kissed the arriving Ukrainian troops.
In his nightly video address on Saturday, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said, "We will see many more such greetings from Ukrainian soldiers liberating Russian-held territory" (local time).
"We do not forget anyone; we will not abandon anyone," he vowed to the Ukrainian cities and villages still under occupation.
The retaking of Kherson by Ukraine was a major setback for the Kremlin and the latest in a string of battlefield humiliations. It occurred approximately six weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin illegally annexed and declared Russian territory the Kherson region and three other southern and eastern Ukrainian provinces.
As Ukrainian forces consolidated their hold on Kherson on Sunday (local time), authorities contemplated the daunting task of clearing the city of explosive devices and restoring basic public services.
A Ukrainian official referred to the situation in Kherson as a "humanitarian disaster." According to reports, the remaining residents of the city lack water, medicine, and food. Bread and other essentials are in short supply due to a lack of electricity.
During the eight-month occupation, Ukrainian police enlisted the aid of locals in identifying Russian forces' collaborators. Saturday (local time), Ukrainian police officers and public broadcasting services returned to the city following the withdrawal of Russian troops.
Ihor Klymenko, the national police chief of Ukraine, stated on Facebook that approximately 200 officers were establishing checkpoints and compiling evidence of possible war crimes in the city.
In what could be the next district to fall in Ukraine's march on the illegally annexed territory by Moscow, the Russian-appointed administration of the Kakhovka district, east of the city of Kherson, announced Saturday (local time) that its employees would be evacuated.
"Today, the administration is the primary target of Ukrainian attacks," said Pavel Filipchuk, the Moscow-installed leader of Kakhovka.
He wrote on Telegram, "Therefore, by order of the government of the Kherson region, we are relocating to a safer territory from which we will lead the district."
Kakhovka is located upstream of the Kakhovka hydroelectric power station on the left bank of the Dnieper River.
Mykola Lukashuk, chairman of the Dnipropetrovsk Regional Council, reported that Nikopol, located further upstream, was heavily shelled overnight.
He reported via Telegram that two women were injured but are in stable condition in the hospital. One private residence and two farm buildings were destroyed, as well as over 40 residential buildings, over 24 commercial buildings, a college, a registry office, and electricity networks.
Lukashuk reports that the city of Marhanets was also attacked. Two private residences were damaged, but there were no reported injuries. Nikopol and Marhanets are located across the Dnieper River from Europe's largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhia.
In Kherson, social media images depict Ukrainian activists removing memorial plaques erected by the occupying authorities. Yellow Ribbon, the Ukrainian resistance movement in the occupied territories, sent a Telegram showing two individuals in a park removing plaques depicting Soviet-era military figures.
The announcement that Russian forces were withdrawing across the Dnieper River, which divides the Kherson region and Ukraine as a whole, followed an intensified Ukrainian counteroffensive in the south of the country. In the past two months, Ukraine's military claimed to have recaptured dozens of towns and villages north of Kherson, where stabilization efforts were reportedly occurring.
Dmytro Kuleba, the foreign minister of Ukraine, attempted to temper the excitement over the Russian withdrawal from Kherson.
"We are winning ground battles, but the war continues," he said from Cambodia, where he attended an ASEAN summit.
Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, told journalists that a joint statement on the summit's outcomes was not adopted because "the American side and its partners insisted on an unacceptable assessment of the situation in Ukraine and its environs."
The support Ukraine receives from its Western allies, including the United States, angers the Kremlin.