After months of fighting, Kyiv’s forces have retaken much of the strategic city of Kherson from Russian occupation, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced. A crowd of chanting revelers, some draped in Ukrainian flags, gathered Friday in Kherson’s central square to celebrate, according to videos shared widely on social media and verified by The Washington Post.
Losing Kherson — one of the first major cities to fall under Russia’s control after it invaded in February — constitutes a major military and political setback for the Kremlin and a blow its efforts to consolidate its grip over swaths of Ukraine’s south. However, Zelensky reminded residents that the city “is not yet completely cleansed” of Russia’s presence.
Here’s the latest on the war and its ripple effects across the globe.
- Russia’s retreat from Kherson “has broader strategic implications,” Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, said on Air Force One, as President Biden headed to Cambodia on Saturday. Sullivan added that Ukraine’s ability to push Russian troops across the Dnieper River reduces the “long-term threat” to places such as Odessa and the Black Sea shore.
- “People of Kherson themselves are already removing Russian symbols and any traces of the occupiers’ stay in Kherson from the streets and buildings,” Zelensky said, calling on any lingering Russian forces to surrender.
- Russia’s Defense Ministry said Friday that the last Russian soldiers had safely left the city. But The Washington Post could not verify Moscow’s claims of an orderly pullback with no fighters or weapons left behind, and there were some reports of Russian troops struggling to escape to the east bank of the Dnieper River under heavy Ukrainian bombardment.
- Britain said the withdrawal of Russian forces probably began much earlier than Moscow’s public announcement earlier this week. “There is a realistic possibility that Russian military equipment and forces in civilian attire had been evacuating” while tens of thousands of civilians were ordered to leave by the Moscow-installed authorities in late October, the British Defense Ministry said Saturday.
- The Washington Post’s visual forensics team has verified and catalogued almost 300 videos taken by civilians since the start of the war, including footage of Ukrainians celebrating in central Kherson after Russian forces withdrew. The searchable database is part of a growing body of visual evidence that has become instrumental for war crimes prosecutors, while also propelling global outrage against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war.