Kherson residents are waiting for liberation, but they are afraid of the way there

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NOS . News

  • Shem Beldock

    foreign editor

  • Shem Beldock

    foreign editor

Ukraine kicked off with great expectations end of August Attack in the Kherson region occupied by Russia. After about two and a half weeks, a few villages have been liberated, but the lively coastal town itself is still a long way off. While Russia sent reinforcements to Kherson, Ukraine managed to recover thousands of square kilometers elsewhere, in the Kharkov region.

What do Kherson residents notice about the Ukrainian counterattack?

“Here in the city, nothing seems to have changed,” said Sarhi, whose full name was not given for security reasons. “The Russian soldiers are still everywhere. They look a little nervous, but they’ve been for months.” Since the Russians captured the city, Russian soldiers and collaborators have been targeted by Attacks by the Ukrainian revolutionaries. “That’s why they are careful.”

He said via Telegram that Oleg (pseudonym) is terrified. “We don’t know what will happen and how the Russians will treat us. They are very reckless and dangerous.”

People fear that Bucha and Irpin will be repeated.

Sarhi, a resident of Kherson

It is dangerous for residents of the occupied territories to speak to Western journalists because of possible reprisals. Compared to before Essays on life in the occupied territories It seems that fewer and fewer people are willing to take this risk. Some have even cut off contact with family in empty parts of Ukraine for their own safety, according to conversations with refugee residents, who cannot speak to their loved ones at the moment.

“People are afraid that Russian soldiers will repeat ‘Bucha’ and ‘Erpin’ if they withdraw,” Sarhi said, referring to Indiscriminate shooting at civilians Out of possible revenge for the loss of territory.

“Our city is many times larger, so I hope that nothing like this will happen here. I am also afraid of what will happen after the liberation: it is possible that they will shoot at our city from a distance, as they did with Mykolaiv and Kharkov.”

Newspapers thrown away

The Ukrainian attack hasRussification“From the region has stopped. Preparations for a referendum on joining Russia Stop. According to the city’s residents, the occupation authorities lacked cooperation with the residents. “Russian passports were distributed for a fee. Pro-Russian newspapers were also printed, but they were simply discarded,” says Serhi.

Pro-Russian billboards and posters were hung throughout the city. At first, they were vandalized or covered in paint, according to photos on social media. “But now there are so many, and people don’t dare do that anymore.”

This is what the billboards look like:

  • Serhii / NOS

    There are posters in the city proclaiming that Kherson is part of Russia
  • Serhii / NOS

    Russian passport advertising poster

Sarhi says the Russians do little to please the population. “They tell us that they hate us and that we’re not human. A while ago, Z-code troops were replaced by V-branded soldiers who are even more brutal.” According to him, members of the brigade of the Chechen leader Kadyrov were also transferred to the city. “To deter and to ensure that the Russian army does not leave.”

Surrender rumors

Dutchman Leo de Lange lived in Kherson, but to flee city ​​this summer. He hears hopeful messages from acquaintances in the city. “No bullet has been fired in recent days, the first since the attack began,” he added. According to him, this indicates that there are ongoing negotiations between the warring parties. This way the Russians can withdraw without coming under fire.”

On Monday, a Ukrainian military spokesman said that “some Russian forces” in the Kherson region were negotiating a surrender. Evidence for this has not been provided. Analysts pointed out that psychological warfare may be psychological warfare to discourage other Russian forces.

Nieuwsuur recently spoke to a member of the underground resistance in Kherson, blogger Konstantin Ryzhenko:

‘Cooperating with intelligence’

Daily life becomes more difficult due to lack of food. The Ukrainian army has Bridges over the Dnieper River It was destroyed, leaving the Russian troops “stuck” on the west bank, but this made the supply of food to the city much more difficult. “The population was ready for that, so I think the Russians are more upset about that,” de Lange says.

The Ukrainian armed forces have not yet recaptured a major city like Kherson in the last offensive. However, Resident Serhie remains confident of how to restore the city. “Ukraine is attacking very specifically,” he says proudly. “We’ve already seen a number of attacks in the area, but always on a building where the Russians were.” Is this enough to recover? “Who do you know?”

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