Volodymyr Zelensky has hailed the recapture of the city of Kherson by Ukrainian forces as a “historic day” as troops were greeted by tearful crowds and celebrating residents. Moscow has claimed that its forces have left the city without losing a single fighter.
However Ukrainian authorities said that they have seen Russian troops ditching their uniforms, dropping weapons and drowning while trying to escape.
In his nightly address Mr Zelensky said that the recapture of Kherson was part of an ongoing process of Ukrainian troops recapturing the southern part of their country.
He said: “Today is a historic day. We are regaining the south of our country, regaining Kherson.
“The people of Kherson were waiting.
“They never gave up on Ukraine. Hope for Ukraine is always justified – and Ukraine always regains its own.
“I am happy to see how people, despite all the threats, despite the repression and abuse of the occupiers, cherished the Ukrainian flags, believed in Ukraine.
“And even when the city is not yet completely cleansed of the enemy’s presence, the people of Kherson themselves are already removing Russian symbols and any traces of the occupiers’ stay in Kherson from the streets and buildings.
“It was the same in all other cities liberated by our defenders.
Kherson province is one of the regions Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed to have annexed from Ukraine in late September.
It is also strategically important as it offers access to Crimea, which has been under Russian control since 2014 .
Crimea is where the Russian Black Sea fleet is based and where many attacks have been launched during what the Kremlin calls its “special military operation.”