A Ukrainian train rolled into newly freed Kherson for the first time in eight months on Saturday (November 19). The mood was jubilant as citizens in the newly liberated southern Ukrainian city greeted the passengers with flowers and national flags.
“I can’t even put my feelings into words,” said Hryhorii Vyrtosa, a 67-year-old construction worker, shortly after stepping off the overnight route from the capital, Kyiv. Vyrtosa was quoted by Reuters.
Russia invaded Ukraine in February this year. After sustained territorial gains in first few months of the conflict, Russian forces have had to retreat in the face of counterattack from Ukrainian troops.
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Ukrainian forces captured Kherson from Russians on November 11. Kherson was the only regional capital Russia was able to capture since the invasion began.
Saturday’s journey marked the first time Vyrtosa, a native of Kherson region with Moldovan roots, was able to return after escaping the Russian-occupied city of Skadovsk in April.
Hundreds of residents of the city, which is currently without electricity, running water or central heating, cheered as they welcomed the train.
“It’s a symbol of freedom. It’s happiness,” said Maria Matsenko, 66, who was holding a Ukrainian flag while waiting on the platform with her friend.
The train, which was brightly painted by various Ukrainian artists and featured slogans such as “People of Steel”, departed Kyiv late on Friday following a celebratory event at the main railway station.
(With inputs from agencies)
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