A wedding couple kiss as they celebrate together with Ukrainians in Kherson on Saturday following the retreat of Russian occupiers from the city. Photo by STR/EPA-EFE
Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Ukraine has taken control of more than 60 settlements in the Kherson region this weekend and won't stop until it regains all of its lost territory lost to Russia, President Volodomyr Zelensky says.
Stabilization measures have begun in the areas of Kherson where Ukrainian forces last week drove Russian occupiers from the west side of the Dnipro River in a counteroffensive, Zelensky said late Saturday in a video address.
"As of this evening, the defense forces have won back control in more than 60 settlements of Kherson region, the police have started taking stabilization measures," he said. "Stabilization measures are also ongoing in Kherson itself.
"Everywhere in the liberated territory, our bomb-disposal experts have a lot of work to do. Almost 2,000 explosive items have already been removed -- mines, trip wires, and unexploded ammunition," the president added.
Despite what he called "months of Russian occupation, months of the mockery of our people, months of stories that Russia is supposedly there forever," there is now "a sea of Ukrainian flags on the streets" of Kherson.
The victory, Zelensky said, shows why Kyiv "should liberate our entire land from the invaders."
Ukraine's armed forces, he said, "will see many more such greetings in those cities and villages that are still under occupation," predicting they will "definitely reach our state border -- all sections of the internationally recognized border of Ukraine."
The city of Kherson was overwhelmed with celebrations Saturday as people flooded into its central square less than 24 hours after the last Russian soldiers surrendered the regional capital.
Videos showed residents cheering, embracing each other and waving flags while standing atop cars.
"Vladimir Putin said Russia would be here for ever. In the end they left in five minutes and ran away like goats," resident Serhii Melnikov told the British newspaper The Observer. "Putin wanted to kill us. He's ended up destroying his own country. Russia's retreat from Kherson is an enormous failure."
Social media posts showed residents had unfurled a huge Ukrainian flag which had earlier been used in street protests against the Russian military occupation.
Firefighters conduct work while smoke rises from a building after it was attacked by Russian drones in Kyiv, Ukraine, on October 17, 2022. Photo by Vladyslav Musiienko/UPI | License Photo