Intensified Russian shelling of the recently liberated Ukrainian city of Kherson has killed 10 people, injured dozens more and forced hospital evacuations, the Ukrainian government announced on Friday.
Kherson, the only regional capital conquered by Russia in its nine-month war against its neighbor, has faced the wrath of President Vladimir Putin since Ukrainian soldiers reclaimed the city two weeks ago.
Intensified shelling in recent days has wreaked havoc on the southern Ukrainian city, forcing authorities to move children from a pediatric medical facility to nearby Mykolaiv, said Yaroslav Yanushevych, governor of Kherson .
Friday, Yanushevych said on Telegram that two residential areas of Kherson faced “massive enemy artillery fire” and that 54 people were injured in Russian attacks the day before.
Authorities were also evacuating 100 people from a psychiatric care facility, Yanushevych said. These patients were heading to another city in southern Ukraine, Odessa.
Lilia Kristenko, 38, whose parents died when their home in Kherson was burned down on Thursday evening, told the Associated Press that “the Russians took the two most precious people from me”.
Videos released by the AP show healthcare workers in Kherson work without electricity In a hospital.
“Almost every hour I receive reports of strikes by the occupiers in Kherson,” Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in an address to his nation on Thursday.
“It’s revenge for those who lost,” he said. “They don’t know how to fight. The only thing they can still do is terrorize.
Zelenskyy spoke on Friday with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who issued a statement expressing “full solidarity with Ukraine as it suffers from Putin’s deliberate and barbaric bombardment.”
“Russia must be held accountable for what constitute war crimes,” she said in the statement. “We are stepping up our efforts and working with partners to provide the emergency assistance that Ukraine needs.”
The residents of Kherson, which had a pre-war population of about 280,000, were defiant after the Russian army. grasped the region on March 2less than a week after Europe’s biggest military conflict since World War II.
Residents took to the streets to protest the Russian occupation, and the enraged occupation troops reportedly mostly remained on the outskirts of town. A Russian propaganda campaign aimed at assimilating the city failed.
In September, Putin signed dummy treaties nominally annexing four southern and eastern provinces of Ukraine, an area that included Kherson.
Putin backed the move through mock referendums overseen by Russian soldiers and paired illegal annexation with thinly veiled threats about a nuclear response to battle efforts for the region.
Undeterred, the Ukrainian army invaded Kherson on 11 November.
The loss of the prized city was a blow to Putin, who has sought to bridge Kremlin-controlled territory linking Russia with Crimea, the peninsula in southern Ukraine that Russia has seized. in 2014.
The Russian retreat came crucially before the winter months, when the battle lines were expected to be cemented by snowy weather. Russian forces lost about half of the territory they claimed after launch the invasion on February 24.
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Putin, who had plans last winter for a rapid capture of the capital of Kyivin the north, instead saw his army rout on the battlefield by Ukrainian forces.
Unable to eliminate the Ukrainian army – which is aided by the weapons of the United States and other countries – the Russian army has resorted to destroying Ukrainian cities from the air. A Wednesday’s wave of missiles decimated Ukraine power grid, plunging Kyiv and other cities into darkness.
On Friday, two-thirds of houses in snow-covered Kyiv still lacked heating and half lacked electricity, Mayor Vitali Klitschko said. Citizens there headed for the cold subway system to charge their phones.
Klitschko said the city has opened 400 heating spaces, installing them in schools and similar spaces. Running water, which had been blocked by the attacks, was back, the mayor added.
“If there is no electricity in your house for more than a day”, Klitschko wrote on Telegram, “you can come to the heating station to recharge your gadgets or flashlights, have a tea and find out about nearby water pumping stations and open shops and pharmacies”.
In his speech on Thursday, Zelenskyy sought to encourage his beleaguered country, pointing to Russian failures and noting that the power grid was gradually being repaired.
“Thank you to everyone who fights and works for our country,” Zelenskyy said. “We have endured nine months of full-scale war and Russia has not found a way to break us. And he won’t find it. We have to keep holding on. »