Ukraine’s Kherson races to restore power and water after Russian retreat

  • Russians mine critical infrastructure in Kherson – Governor
  • Humanitarian situation in Kherson ‘very difficult’ – official
  • Authorities working to restore critical services
  • East Donetsk, Luhansk Regions Fighting

KHERSON, Ukraine, Nov 13 (Reuters) – Kherson’s utility company is working to restore critical infrastructure mined by fleeing Russian troops, and most households in the southern Ukrainian city remain, district officials said on Sunday. There is no electricity and water.

The governor of Kherson region, Yaroslav Yanushevych, said the authorities had decided to maintain a curfew from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and ban people from entering and leaving the city as a safety measure.

“The enemy mined all critical infrastructure objects,” Yanushevich told Ukrainian television. “We’re trying to meet in a few days and (then) open up the city,” he said, adding that he hoped mobile phone operators could start work on Sunday.

Ukrainian troops arrived in central Kherson on Friday after Russia abandoned the only regional capital it has occupied since the invasion began in February. The retreat marked Russia’s third major retreat in the war and the first to yield such a large occupied city in the face of a major Ukrainian counteroffensive to retake parts of the east and south.

Train services to Kherson are expected to resume this week, the head of Ukraine’s state railways said.

However, another district official said that while demining was underway and authorities were working to restore critical services, the situation in the city “remains very difficult” from a humanitarian standpoint.

“Most houses have no electricity, no water and problems with gas supply,” Yuri Sobolevsky, the first deputy chairman of the Kherson Regional Council, told Ukrainian TV.

As elated residents welcomed the troops arriving in Kherson, the Ukrainian General Staff reported that heavy fighting continued on the eastern front in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

It said in a morning update that its forces had repelled attacks on several Russian settlements in the two regions in the past 24 hours, while reporting Russian strikes in Bakhmut, Avdivka, New Rocket and artillery fire in the eastern areas of Popavlivka and Zaporozhye.

Despite repeated Russian attacks, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky attributes part of Ukraine’s success in Kherson and elsewhere to stubborn resistance in the Donetsk region.

“It’s hell there – there’s extremely fierce fighting there every day,” he said in his regular evening video address on Saturday.

“Twenty Years Younger”

Hundreds of residents waved national flags on the streets of Kherson on Saturday, chanting “thank you, thank you” and adorning Ukrainian soldiers with blue and yellow ribbons.

“I can’t put into words how I feel right now. I’ve never had such joy before,” said Kherson resident Natalia Koloba. “Our brother, our protector. Come on, we’re free today. It’s incredible.”

On their way to Kherson early Saturday, villagers with flowers waited to greet and kiss Ukrainian soldiers as they poured in to take control of the west bank of the Dnieper after a stunning Russian retreat.

“In the past two days, we’ve gotten 20 years younger,” said Valentyna Buhailova, 61, as a Ukrainian soldier jumped out of a pickup truck and hugged her and her in a small village near the city center. Her 66-year-old companion Nataliya Porkhunuk said earlier. Kherson.

But artillery volleys surrounded the international airport, and police said they were setting up checkpoints in and around the city and clearing leftover mines.

The road from Mykolaiv to Kherson is lined with fields scarred by miles of abandoned Russian trenches. A destroyed T72 tank fell to the ground with its turret upside down.

The abandoned trenches are littered with trash, blankets and camouflage nets. An irrigation ditch is full of abandoned Russian equipment, and several anti-tank mines can be seen by the roadside.

Reporting by David Ljjungren, Jonathan Landay, Gleb Garanich and Pavel Polityuk Writing by Clarence Fernandez and Tomasz Janowski Editing by William Mallard and Frances Kerry

Our Standard: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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