YUZHNE, Ukraine (AP) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has accused Russian troops of “committing the same atrocities as in other regions of our country” before being forced to withdraw from the strategic southern city of Kherson and its environs.
In his overnight video address on Sunday, Zelenskyy said without detail that “investigators have already documented more than 400 Russian war crimes and the bodies of both civilians and military have been found.”
“In the Kherson region, the Russian army has left the same atrocities as in other regions of our country,” he said. “We will find and bring every murderer to justice. Without a doubt.”
The end of the Russian occupation of the city of Kherson for eight months has led to days of celebrations, but has also led to a humanitarian emergency, with residents living without power, water and shortages of food and medicine. Russia still controls about 70% of the wider Kherson region.
Zelenskyy said Russian soldiers left behind when their military commanders left the city last week are being held. He also spoke, again without details, of the “neutralization of saboteurs”.
Ukrainian police have called on residents to help identify people who have collaborated with Russian forces.
Zelenskyy urged people in the liberated zone to also be on the lookout for booby traps, saying: “Please do not forget that the situation in the Kherson region is still very dangerous. First of all, there are mines. Unfortunately, one of our sappers was killed and four others injured while clearing mines.”
And he promised that essential services will be restored.
“We are doing everything we can to restore normal technical capabilities for electricity and water supply as soon as possible,” he said. “We will bring back transport and mail. Let’s bring back an ambulance and normal medicines. Of course, the restoration of the work of authorities, the police and some private companies is already starting.”
Residents said departing Russian troops looted the city and took loot when they withdrew last week. They also destroyed key infrastructure before retreating across the wide Dnieper River to the eastern bank. A Ukrainian official described the situation in Kherson as “a humanitarian catastrophe”.
Reconnecting the electricity supply is the priority as the gas supply is already secured, Kherson regional governor Yaroslav Yanushevych said.
Russia’s withdrawal marked a triumphant milestone in Ukraine’s backlash against the invasion of Moscow nearly nine months ago. In the past two months, the Ukrainian army claimed to have recaptured dozens of towns and villages north of the city of Kherson.
Ukraine’s recapture of Kherson was the latest in a series of embarrassments on the Kremlin battlefield. It came about six weeks after Russian President Vladimir Putin annexed the Kherson region and three other provinces in southern and eastern Ukraine — in violation of international law — and declared them Russian territory.
John Leicester contributed to this story from Kiev, Ukraine.
Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine