Ukrainian forces enter key city of Kherson in major setback for Putin
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Ukraine’s defence ministry said Friday its forces were taking back Kherson after Russia had occupied the city since March. The loss is a huge blow to the Kremlin due to the city’s proximity to Crimea. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba earlier called Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson, which it confirmed on Friday, as an “important victory” for Ukraine. Read FRANCE 24’s live blog to see how the day’s events unfolded. All times are Paris time (GMT+1).
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10:47pm: Ukrainian troops met with joy by Kherson residents after Russia’s retreat
Ukrainian troops were met by jubilant crowds, after Russian troops withdrew from Kherson after months of grim occupation.
Although Russia claims the pull out on Friday was carried out smoothly, there have been several reports of chaotic scenes with Russian troops abandoning both their uniforms and weapons and being told to make their own way to territories still under Russian control.
FRANCE 24’s Luke Shrago reports:
10:32pm: Emmanuel Macron welcomes ‘Kherson’s return to Ukraine’
French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed “Kherson’s return to Ukraine”, after Ukrainian troops reclaimed this important city in southern Ukraine.
“France will stand beside the Ukrainian people,” he added on Twitter, in French and Ukrainian.
I welcome Kherson’s return to Ukraine. This is a critical step towards the restoration of its sovereign rights. France will stand beside the Ukrainian people.
— Emmanuel Macron (@EmmanuelMacron)
6:56pm: ‘Today is an historic day’, says Zelensky
on Friday said special units of the armed forces were already in the southern city of Kherson following Russia’s withdrawal and described the moment as historic.
“Today is an historic day. We are in the process of taking Kherson back,” he said in a video address.
6:35pm: Ukraine’s Zelensky says Kherson is ‘ours’ after Russian retreat
Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday wrote on social media that the southern city of Kherson was “ours” after Russia announced it had completed a retreat from the regional hub.
“Our people. Ours. Kherson,” Zelensky wrote on Telegram alongside a Ukraine flag emoji and amateur video footage that appeared to show Ukrainian troops gathering with the city’s residents.
6:06pm: Ukraine units reach western bank of Dnipro in Kherson region, say armed forces
Advanced units of Ukraine’s armed forces have reached the western bank of the Dnipro river in some parts of the Kherson region, the general staff said in a Facebook statement on Friday.
The statement was issued hours after Ukrainian troops entered Kherson, in the southern part of Ukraine, in the wake of a major Russian retreat.
6:02pm: Russia bans entry to 200 US nationals, including Biden’s relatives, press secretary
The Russian foreign ministry said on Friday it had banned 200 US nationals from entering Russia, including a sister and two brothers of US President , in response to personal sanctions from .
It said it had banned entry by Valerie Biden Owens, James Brian Biden and Francis William Biden.
White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was also included on the list.
3:34pm: Russia pulls out 30,000 troops from Kherson region
Russia stated Friday that 30,000 troops had retreated from Ukraine’s southern region surrounding the the critical regional capital of Kherson as Kyiv said its forces were entering the city.
The retreat is a huge blow to the Kremlin.
3:26pm: Russia frees 45 Ukrainians in latest prisoner swap, says Kyiv
Forty-five Ukrainian soldiers have been freed in a prisoner exchange with Russia and the bodies of two killed Ukrainian soldiers have been repatriated, the chief of the Ukrainian presidential office said on Friday.
However, no details of the Russians freed in the swap were given. The office of the president published a video of a group of soldiers sitting in the back of a vehicle who were cheered as they returned home “Welcome to Ukraine” and “Glory to Ukraine!”
The prisoner swap was the latest in a series of exchanges since Putin’s invasion began.
3:05pm: Ukrainian troops enter Kherson as Russian’s retreat
Ukraine’s defence ministry have confirmed that their forces have entered the city of Kherson. Residents are hoisting the Ukrainian flag across the city, including the main square, with the images doing the rounds on social media.
The city of Kherson is the only place that the Russians had managed to take control of since the start of the 24 February invasion.
The city is a key prize for the Ukrainians due to its strategic location close to the border with Crimea. Kherson provided Moscow with a land bridge to the Black Sea peninsula which it seized from Kyiv in 2014. Ukraine retaking swathes of Kherson region cut off Moscow’s land corridor.
FRANCE 24’s Gulliver Cragg tells us more.
2:50pm: Ukrainian forces enter city of Kherson, says military intelligence
Ukraine’s defence intelligence agency said on Friday Ukrainian units were entering Kherson and that the southern city was coming back under Ukrainian control after being occupied by Russian forces since March.
The Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Defence Ministry made the comment in a statement to any Russian troops that are still in Kherson, telling them to surrender immediately.
The statement was Kyiv’s first official confirmation that its forces were in Kherson.
2:02pm: Russia’s Wagner mercenaries forming border militia
The head of Russia’s mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said Friday that his organisation had started training civilians in Russian regions bordering Ukraine to form a militia and build fortifications.
“Wagner is helping and will keep helping the population in border areas to learn how to build engineering structures, to train and to organise a militia,” Prigozhin was quoted as saying by the press service of his company Concord.
Prigozhin said Wagner’s main aim was to start building fortifications and training schools in the Belgorod and Kursk regions, which have regularly come under fire in recent months in attacks blamed by Moscow on the Ukrainian army.
1:15pm: Ukraine hails ‘important victory’ in Kherson after Russian pullout
Kyiv on Friday proclaimed Russia’s announced withdrawal from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson as another key battlefield success in territory that Moscow once claimed as its own.
“Ukraine is gaining another important victory right now and [this] proves that whatever Russia says or does, Ukraine will win,” Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba wrote on social media.
1:02pm: Iran-born brothers charged in Sweden with spying for Russia
Two -born brothers were charged in with aggravated for allegedly spying for Russia and its military intelligence service GRU for around a decade, prosecutors said Friday. One of the men worked for Sweden’s domestic intelligence agency.
“It has been a complex investigation concerning a crime that is very difficult to investigate and the suspicion concerns very serious criminality directed against Sweden’s intelligence and security system,” National Security Unit chief prosecutor Per Lindqvist said. “The information that has been obtained, transmitted and divulged could, by the fact that if it comes into the hands of a foreign power, result in detriment to Sweden’s security.”
11:57am: Scenes of relief as Ukrainian troops reclaim dozens of towns from Russian control
In the village of Snihurivka, about 55 km north of Kherson city, a small group of Ukrainian soldiers was shown on Ukraine’s state TV being greeted by joyous residents. FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Ukraine, Gulliver Cragg, reports.
11:20am: Russia says it has completed retreat from Kherson
Russia said Friday it had completed its withdrawal of forces from the western bank of the Dnipro river, after Moscow said it had made the “difficult decision” to withdraw as Ukraine advances.
“Today at 5 o’clock in the morning Moscow time (0200 GMT), the transfer of Russian troops to the left bank of the Dnipro River was completed. Not a single piece of military equipment and weapons was left on the right bank,” the Russian defence ministry said in a statement on social media.
10:38am: Russia and US to meet on New START nuclear arms treaty, says Russian official
Russia and the United States will meet soon in Cairo for discussions on the , Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying on Friday.
The US State Department said on Tuesday that the two sides would meet shortly and discuss resuming inspections under the treaty that have been paused since before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Ryabkov’s comments, quoted by RIA news agency, provided the first confirmation that the talks would be in Egypt. He said they would take place in late November-early December.
New START, which took effect in 2011, caps the number of strategic nuclear warheads that the United States and Russia can deploy, and the deployment of land- and submarine-based missiles and bombers to deliver them.
blaming travel restrictions imposed by Washington and its allies over Moscow’s February invasion of Ukraine, but said it was still committed to complying with the provisions of the treaty.
10:34am: Putin not attending G20 due to other commitments, says Kremlin
Russia President will not attend the meeting in Indonesia because of scheduling commitments, his spokesperson said Friday.
“This was the head of state’s decision, given his schedule and the necessity of him staying in the Russian Federation,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, a day after confirming Foreign Minister would represent Russia at the November 15-16 summit in Bali.
10:27am: Russia says it takes prisoner swap proposals with US seriously
The Kremlin said on Friday that it always takes prisoner swap proposals with the seriously, when asked whether Russia was ready to intensify negotiations with Washington.
“There are existing channels, they should be discreet,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.
President Joe Biden said on Wednesday he expected Russian President to talk more seriously about a potential prisoner swap to secure the release of
10:26am: ‘Work underway’ to address Russia’s concerns on extension of grain deal
The Kremlin said on Friday that work was underway to address a number of Russian concerns regarding the , which is due to expire on November 19.
Speaking as delegates from Russia and the United Nations were due to meet in Geneva to discuss a possible extension to the deal, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said there was a “reciprocal understanding” about Russia’s calls for the West to remove “obstacles” to its own fertiliser and grain exports.
10:23am: Kremlin says Ukraine’s Kherson still Russian ‘subject’ despite withdrawal
The said Friday that the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine was still part of Russia even though Moscow announced its troops were retreating as Ukrainian troops advanced.
“This is a subject of the Russian Federation. There are no changes in this and there cannot be changes,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, after defence officials in Moscow this week announced the draw-down of its forces in the region.
9:48am: Strategic bridge near Ukraine’s Kherson collapses
The Antonivskiy bridge, the only nearby road crossing from the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson to the Russian-controlled eastern bank of the Dnipro River, has collapsed, Ukraine’s public broadcaster quoted local residents as saying on Friday.
The Suspilne broadcaster published a photograph showing whole sections of the bridge missing. The next road crossing across the Dnipro is more than 70 km (43 miles) from Kherson city.
It was not immediately clear what had caused the bridge’s collapse. Russia announced on Wednesday it was retreating from the west bank of the Dnipro River to the other side.
9:33am: Russian strike on residential building kills at least five in southern Ukraine
Ukraine said Friday that at least five people were killed following a Russian strike on a residential building in the southern city of Mykolaiv, near the front line.
The attack came as Russia said it was drawing down troops from the nearby city of Kherson, the only regional capital Moscow’s forces captured in Ukraine after they launched their February invasion.
The Mykolaiv regional governor Vitaliy Kim said on social media that the toll had risen to five after the latest fatal attack on the city that has been battered for months by Russian forces.
President said the strike was a “cynical response to our successes at the front.”
4:42am: Seoul denies report of arms deal with US for Ukrainian forces
on Friday denied a report that it would sell artillery shells for use by Ukrainian forces, claiming the munitions – if the ongoing deal negotiation is finalised – will be for forces only.
The United States was nearing an agreement to purchase 100,000 rounds of 155 mm artillery from Seoul which would be delivered to Ukraine, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday, citing “US officials familiar with the deal”.
Washington is Seoul’s key security ally, and stations some 27,000 US troops in the South to help protect it from the nuclear-armed North.
South Korea said Friday that while the arms deal with the US is ongoing, the shells are not meant to be delivered to Ukraine.
3:59am: Japanese national killed fighting alongside Ukrainian soldiers
A man fighting alongside Ukrainian soldiers against Russia was killed in combat on Wednesday, becoming the country’s first confirmed casualty in the war, authorities in Tokyo said Friday.
A foreign ministry official told AFP the man is believed to be the first Japanese national to have died in Ukraine “since the invasion began in February”.
Japan has for months urged its citizens to evacuate the war-ravaged nation and has issued its highest-level warning against travelling there.
While no other details were provided by officials, Jiji Press reported that the man belonged to a squad fighting in eastern Ukraine.
At the start of the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky openly invited foreigners to his country to join an “international legion” that would fight side-by-side with Ukrainians against the Russians.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and Reuters)
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