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Ukraine marks one year after Kherson city’s liberation

KYIV (AFP) – Ukrainian officials yesterday celebrated the recapture of the capital of the southern region of Kherson from Russian forces a year ago, the last major shift of the front line.

Ukrainian forces liberated the southern city of Kherson last November, routing Russian troops after eight months of occupation.

“Today is the first anniversary of the liberation of Kherson from Russian occupation… A city of hope,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said, thanking soldiers and locals.

However, the sprawling front line between Russian and Ukrainian sides has remained mostly static for almost a year despite a much-touted Ukrainian counter-offensive, with Russian forces entrenched in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Russian forces based across the river from Kherson city still control swathes of territory and shell towns and villages they retreated from.

Municipal workers wearing protective vests and helmets decorate the wall of the regional administration building with a huge national flag. PHOTO: AP

Ukraine’s top army commander Valery Zaluzhny praised “brave soldiers and local residents for their courage and resilience.”

He posted footage that showed residents hugging soldiers at the liberation of Kherson, and a watermelon – the symbol of Kherson.

“Today, as the yellow and blue flag flies over Kherson, we continue to fight and defend our land with determination,” Zaluzhny said. Kherson was taken over by Russian forces at the beginning of the war in February 2022.

Zaluzhny surprised observers of the invasion last week with an unusually candid assessment that the warring parties had reached a deadlock along the front.

But Zelensky denied that the war had reached a stalemate, and has regularly met with leaders to try and stave off fatigue.