Ukraine’s Defense Ministry said on Thursday that Russian troops withdrew from the city of Nova Kakhova, in the southern region of Khersondespite the absence of reports of recent fighting in that area.
“He [miércoles] March 22, 2023, all units of the occupation army deployed in the town of Nova Kakhova, in the Kherson region, They left the city.” indicated the ministerial statement, which so far could not be confirmed with independent sources.
The statement, which does not specify whether Ukrainian troops entered the city, states that the Russian forces looted the inhabitants before withdrawing.
Most of the Kherson region was quickly occupied by Russian troops who invaded Ukraine in February 2022, but a Ukrainian counteroffensive recaptured large chunks of territory in November.
Russian forces withdrew to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, which cuts the region in two.
The Russian-installed administration indicated at the time that its representatives had departed from Nova Kajovka.
The President of Ukraine, Volodimir Zelenskyvisited the southern region on Thursday, where he pledged with local officials and villagers to repair the damage caused by Russia’s invasion.
The visit, to a region where Ukraine pushed back occupying Russian forces in a successful counteroffensive late last year, appeared to have intended to underline the country’s resilience 13 months after the full-scale invasion of Russia.
It was Zelensky’s second trip out of Kiev this week, following a morale-boosting visit to eastern Ukraine on Wednesday, in which he presented troops near the town of Bakhmut with medals and praised their valor.
“I spoke to local residents about their current problems and needs,” Zelensky wrote on the Telegram messaging app below the video of the visit on Thursday.
Footage showed him waving to smiling villagers in the badly damaged settlement of Posad-Pokrovske and discussing the reconstruction of the region with local officials.
“We will restore everything, we will rebuild everything. As with all the cities and towns that suffered because of the occupiers,” said Zelensky, who wore a khaki military T-shirt with a small Ukrainian flag on his chest.
Their trips this week followed a visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to the occupied Ukrainian city of Mariupol last Saturday that was criticized by Kiev, and pledges of unity between Beijing and Moscow during a visit to Russia by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
Zelensky had visited the regional capital, Kherson, in November last year after Ukrainian forces drove out Russian troops after months of occupation. Workers are now busy restoring power and water supplies.
“We have to ensure the full restoration and protection of our energy sector!” Zelensky wrote in a separate post that shows him inspecting the energy infrastructure.
“I thank all those who work for this and return the light to our town!”
He added that demining was another priority for the territories from which Russian troops have been expelled.
(With information from Reuters and AFP)
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