Ukraine update: Kherson is liberated

Aerial view of the city of Kherson.

UPDATE: Friday, Nov 11, 2022 · 3:59:52 PM +00:00

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Mark Sumner

Consider this the last map of the Ukrainian counteroffensive in Kherson. Yes, there are still cities and towns whose liberation has not been verified (seen here in yellow). But they will be verified, likely within the next few hours. It’s liberated. It’s all liberated.

The last map of the counteroffensive west of the Dnipro River. Suitable for framing.

All those names that have come to mean so much over the last nine months — the prolonged fight to crack the Russian stronghold at Vysokopillya, the bridgehead south of Davydiv Brid, the back and forth at the southern end of the area, the constant battle to break through on the highways west of Kherson city, and the day to day bravery of those living under the occupation … all of that is in the history books now. And if you feel a need to express joy, anger, and sadness, just like the Ukrainians appearing in the liberation videos, that’s understandable.

The next time we pick up the mapping of Ukraine’s advance, it will be on the other bank of the river.

UPDATE: Friday, Nov 11, 2022 · 3:05:15 PM +00:00

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Mark Sumner

And yes, we knew this was coming. There is no way that this glorious day won’t be tainted by the evidence that will rapidly come out of what’s happened in Kherson and all over the oblast. Now that Beryslav has been liberated, there are expected to be true horrors emerging from the “filtration camp” that Russian forces established there. 

In so many of the videos coming out, you can see that moment when people go from undeniable joy at the approach of Ukrainian forces, to breaking down as they release everything they’ve been holding in over the last nine months. All of this, the joy and the sadness, and the horror, and the relief … it’s all part of this day. And the evidence of what Russia has done in Kherson will only show how vitally important it is that they quickly be removed from all other areas of Ukraine.

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The 11th of November already has a storied place in the history of warfare. But this morning the people of Kherson, and the entering troops of Ukraine, didn’t bother waiting for the 11th minute of the 11th hour. They just got right down to celebrating.

These soldiers are actually members of the Kherson police who joined the military to help free their city.

At this hour, locals have already raised the Ukrainian flag at the city center and are waiting for those troops who are marching into the city.

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There are still small numbers of Russian troops wandering, apparently to no purpose, along the waterfront and clustered near the shattered bridge. There is also confirmation that some Russian troops shed their uniforms and put on civilian clothing. None of that seems to matter right now.

The liberation of Kherson is going to continue throughout this day, and likely into tomorrow. The cleanup of remaining Russian forces west of the Dnipro, and the catalog of captured Russian equipment, will be carrying on for many days, if not weeks, after that. Overnight, Russian media came out with a staged video claiming that all Russian forces had been safely removed from Kherson.

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On the other hand, there were maps purporting to be locations of Russian cell phones that painted a somewhat different picture. 

Russia might want to toss a net across the mouth of the Dnipro if they want to pick up some of those guys as they flow down the river. BTW, water temperatures near Kherson are about 10°C (50°F). 

But really, this morning isn’t about what happened to those Russian forces. It’s all about the victory of Ukrainian forces, and that victory is special in so many ways. As the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense made sure to point out this morning, their forces are not walking into a ruin. They’re not reaching a city center pulverized into rubble the way that Russia did when they captured Mariupol or so many other locations.

Kherson is largely intact. Tens of thousands of citizens remain there, cheering on the approaching Ukrainian force. That’s because Ukraine fought the battle of Kherson in a smart way, choking off Russian supply routes, keeping up pressure to force Russian troops to expend their ammo and strain their equipment, bringing things to the point where Russia had no choice but to leave the city.

There are, of course, concerns this morning. Russia could be waiting until both troops and civilians are massed in celebration before firing artillery from across the river. The possibility that Russia might choose this moment to toss a missile, or drop a bomb, in the city that Vladimir Putin claimed was “forever Russia” remains real. There’s no doubt that Ukrainian troops will not be packing into that central plaza all at once, the way so many of them would love to do.

But this is a helluva great day, one that Ukraine has worked carefully, over a period of many months, to achieve. It’s a great victory. And a huge, huge defeat for Russia.

The liberation of Kherson is not yet official. But expect that announcement to come at any hour, and expect that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is anxious to pay a visit.


As I’ve been writing, Ukrainian troops have reached the central square. And that thing I said about people being afraid to mass together? Forget it.




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