Russia’s latest embarrassment comes to us from the newly-liberated city of Kherson, which the Kremlin had “annexed” illegally in a sham referendum just weeks ago.
Russian troops have long been unwilling to do the work of war with what they’d been provided. Rusty rifles and 70-year-old tanks just couldn’t cut it against an empowered and enthusiastic Ukrainian resistance, and morale has been so low that mutinies have begun within the ranks.
Now that Kherson is back in its rightful hands, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has a stark an serious message.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy made a triumphant visit to the newly liberated city of Kherson on Monday, hailing the Russian withdrawal as the “beginning of the end of the war” but also acknowledging the heavy price Ukrainian soldiers are paying in their grinding effort to push back the invading force.
The retaking of Kherson was one of Ukraine’s biggest successes in the nearly nine months since Moscow’s invasion. It served another stinging blow to the Kremlin and could become a springboard for further advances into occupied territory.
But large parts of eastern and southern Ukraine are still under Russian control, and the city of Kherson itself remains within reach of Moscow’s shells and missiles. Meanwhile, heavy fighting continued elsewhere in the country, with Ukraine reporting several civilian casualties.
Zelenskyy walked the streets of Kherson on Monday, awarding medals to soldiers and posing with them for selfies — and striking a defiant note.
Then came the bold bravado.
“This is the beginning of the end of the war,” he said. “We are step by step coming to all the temporarily occupied territories.”
Ukraine has been running roughshod over the Russian army for much of the conflict, forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin to make ever-more belligerent threats, including several mentions of the potential use of nuclear weapons.