Zelensky sees ‘beginning of the end’ of war with Russia during Kherson tour
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Monday visited the liberated city of Kherson and promised the fresh victory would serve as the “beginning of the end” of the war against Russia.
Zelensky walked the streets in the southern Ukrainian city and took photos with soldiers and praised them for fighting against Russia.
The Ukrainian leader also distributed medals to soldiers and told the liberated city that Ukraine would soon be “coming step by step to all the temporarily occupied territories of our country.”
“Of course, it is difficult, it is a long and hard path,” Zelensky said in the address. “No one gives anything away so easily. The price of this war is high. People were wounded, a large number of people died.”
“We believe that they fled because our army surrounded the enemy, and they were in danger,” the Ukrainian leader said. “There were fierce battles, and the result is that today we are in the Kherson region.”
The retaking of Kherson is another decisive victory for Ukraine, this time in a city Russia captured in the beginning of the war and has held since March. Kherson was also one of four territories illegally annexed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and was the sole regional capital for Russian forces.
Ukraine has now driven Russian troops mostly into the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions, where fighting is likely to take center stage. There are still Russian troops and fortifications in the Kherson region at large.
Ukrainian soldiers moved cautiously into Kherson on Friday, warning of booby traps and mines that could be scattered throughout the city. Troops had to remove some 2,000 explosive devices during a sweep.
Ukrainians in Kherson welcomed the soldiers with open arms, cheering and shouting as they entered the city over the weekend.
Zelensky on Sunday said “atrocities” were committed by Russian forces in Kherson, similar to the brutal acts of killing and torture that shocked the world after Moscow withdrew from the town of Bucha over the spring.
The Ukrainian leader on Monday said he was seeking peace and an end to the conflict but that he would have to secure that peace for his whole country.
“We are ready for peace, but peace for our entire country. This is the territory of our entire state,” he said. “We respect international law and the sovereignty of every state, and now we are talking about the sovereignty of our state. That is why we are fighting against Russian aggression.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.