Ukraine war: Zelensky accuses Russian troops of committing war crimes in Kherson

Ukrainian soldiers remove Russian posters in Kherson (AP)
Ukrainian soldiers remove Russian posters in Kherson (AP)

Ukraine’s president has accused Russian soldiers of committing war crimes in Kherson, which has been liberated by the Ukrainian army.

In his nightly address, Volodymyr Zelensky said investigators “already documented more than 400 Russian war crimes”.

He said: “Bodies of dead civilians and servicemen have been found. The Russian army left behind the same savagery it did in other regions of the country it entered.”

Russia has previously denied similar accusations.

Utility companies in the southern Kherson region were working to restore critical infrastructure damaged and mined by fleeing Russian forces, with most homes in the southern Ukrainian city still without electricity and water, regional officials said.

Ukrainian troops arrived in the centre of Kherson on Friday after Russia abandoned the only regional capital it had captured since the invasion, in what UK officials called a significant reputational blow to Russia.

Crowds of jubilant residents gathered in Kherson’s main square to celebrate even as they surveyed the damage caused by Russian troops.

A Kherson resident kisses a Ukrainian soldier in central Kherson, Ukraine (AP)
A Kherson resident kisses a Ukrainian soldier in central Kherson, Ukraine (AP)

The crowds tried to catch mobile phone signals from Starlink ground stations carried on Ukrainian military vehicles.

“We are happy now, but all of us are afraid of the bombing from the left bank," said Yana Smyrnova, 35, a singer, referring to Russian guns on the east side of the Dnipro River that runs close to the city.

Ms Smyrnova said she and her friends had to get water from the river for bathing and flushing their toilets, and only a few residents were lucky enough to have generators that power pumps to get water from wells.

The governor of Kherson region, Yaroslav Yanushevych, said the authorities had decided to maintain a curfew from 5pm to 8am as a security measure.

Local authorities also said most of the city lacked electricity or water and that the humanitarian situation remained "very difficult".

Some of those celebrating said the difficulties paled compared with the joy of seeing Ukrainian troops entering the city.

"When we saw our army, all of the problems with water and electricity disappeared,” Yana Shaposhnikova, 36, a clothing designer told Reuters.

“The explosions are not so scary. Our boys and girls (troops) are here. So it’s not so scary."

Officials reported some early progress in restoring normality to the city.

Zelenskiy’s adviser Kyrylo Tymoshenko said on Telegram that a mobile connection was already working in the city centre, while the head of Ukrainian state railways said train services to Kherson were expected to resume this week.

Residents said the Russians had pulled out gradually over the past two weeks, but their final departure became clear only when the first Ukrainian troops entered Kherson on Thursday.

"It was a gradual thing," said Alexii Sandakov, 44, a videographer.

“First their special police went. Then the ordinary police and their administration. Then you started seeing fewer soldiers in the supermarkets and then their military vehicles driving away."