- by theguardian
- 20 Mar 2023
A crowd of residents, some tearful, earlier raised Ukrainian flags around the central Svoboda Square, and gathered to greet the first troops to reach the city centre, embracing the arriving Ukrainian soldiers.
The retreat comes six weeks after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, had announced the annexation of Kherson and three other regions at a high-profile ceremony in Moscow.
As Ukrainian armour and columns of infantry closed on Kherson throughout Friday morning they were cheered by flag-waving civilians in the towns, villages and suburbs of Kherson they had liberated.
The liberation of Kherson was cheered around Ukraine, not least by those who had been forced to flee the city during the brutal Russian occupation.
Amid reports of wounded Russian soldiers being abandoned or taken prisoner and Ukrainian shelling of troops crossing the Dnipro River, one Russian soldier told of some units being told to escape any way they could after claims by one Ukrainian official that some Russian troops had drowned trying to cross the river.
Despite the Ukrainian advance into Kherson city itself, elsewhere in the region fighting continued as the Ukrainian army pounded retreating soldiers as they sought to cross to the left bank of the Dnipro River.
As the Russian ministry of defence announced that the withdrawal was complete, key bridges and crossings over the Dnipro were blown up, including the Antonivskiy Bridge, a pontoon beneath it and a nearby railway span.
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