Kherson, Ukraine — President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a shock go to to a key metropolis in southernon Monday, just days after it was . Zelenskyy arrived in Kherson Monday morning and advised troopers and civilians that the liberation of the solely regional Ukrainian capital that Russia had managed to wrest management of since February represented “the beginning of the end of the war.”
Zelenskyy discovered a metropolis full of jubilation at Russia’s retreat, however just beginning to grapple with the horrors inflicted upon its individuals throughout weeks of occupation.
Our CBS News group acquired a army escort into Kherson over the weekend, and the convoy nonetheless needed to proceed with excessive warning. The street was nonetheless plagued by shattered automobiles and deep craters from explosions after Ukrainians battled for practically 9 months to reclaim the metropolis.
But the youngsters of Kherson clearly could not wait any longer to emerge from hiding.
“We’re going to play hide and seek in those trenches, once we’re allowed,” a boy named Kiril advised CBS News.
Zelenskyy additionally wasted no time in coming to have fun the metropolis’s liberation, exhibiting up on Monday regardless of ongoing shelling from Russian troops entrenched lower than a mile away.
We requested the president if he actually believed Russia’s retreat from Kherson was the starting of the end of the battle.
He lauded Ukraine’s military, and vowed that it was “coming to all the occupied territories” nonetheless held by Russian forces in the south and east of his nation.
Ukraine, Zelenskyy mentioned, was prepared for peace, “but peace for all of our country, all of our territory… That’s why we’re fighting against Russian aggression.”
For the residents of Kherson, Monday was about tasting victory, and freedom. Last week, they may have been killed for singing the Ukrainian nationwide anthem. Now they have been out in the streets singing it at the prime of their lungs as their nationwide flag flew once more over buildings throughout the metropolis.
But the pleasure belies unspeakable trauma for a lot of survivors. Oleksander confirmed us round his mom’s home, the place he mentioned 40 Russian troopers had lived for months.
His mom’s clothes was scattered throughout the ground, and as we poked by means of the mess, he recalled how at one level, he could not stand it anymore, so he merely requested the Russian troops to depart. They answered by pointing their rifles at him, handing him a shovel and telling him to dig his personal grave.
Breaking down in tears, he advised CBS News it was solely at the final minute, after two nights of digging, that the Russian troopers appeared to alter their minds and let him dwell.
He could have been fortunate. Zelenskyy mentioned on Sunday evening that “investigators have already documented more than 400 Russian war crimes, and the bodies of both civilians and military personnel have been found” in Kherson.
“In the Kherson region, the Russian army left behind the same atrocities as in other regions of our country,” Zelenksyy mentioned in his nightly video deal with. “We will find and bring to justice every murderer. Without a doubt.”
Walking again outdoors his mom’s home, Oleksander pointed at a neighbor and mentioned: “There goes one of the collaborators.” He mentioned it was one of the Kherson residents who helped the Russians occupy the metropolis.
We requested him how he may go on dwelling with them.
“I don’t know,” he mentioned, “and I don’t know how they can live with themselves.”