Zelensky Visits Kherson, Hailing It As "The Beginning Of The End Of The War"

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky showed up in the southern city of Kherson on Monday, after last week Russia made an unusually blunt defense ministry televised announcement that its forces would withdraw from the city, citing a desire to preserve troop and civilian lives. 

Zelensky took part in a flag raising ceremony in the newly liberated city center. "This is a great pleasure for my heart and soul. I want to thank you for who you are and for returning Ukraine to the Kherson region. We are returning our Armed Forces, our state, our flag," Zelensky said from Kherson's central square. He called the Kherson victory "The beginning of the end of the war."

Zelensky Visits Kherson, Hailing It As "The Beginning Of The End Of The War"
Ukrainian Army/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

While standing before a crowd, Zelensky led the ceremony in a moment of silence for all the Ukrainians who had died defending the city. It marks a major defeat for Russia, given it was the only regional capital to have been held by Russian forces since nearly the start of the invasion. Russia had firm control of it starting in early March.

"All of us, our Armed Forces, our National Guard, intelligence have shown that it is impossible to kill Ukraine," Zelensky said. But he said, "The price of this victory is considered very high," underscoring it came at the cost of "a lot of people wounded and a very high number of dead."

Most importantly, the Ukrainian leader suggested he could be ready for negotiations, after reports emerged this month that Washington has been pressing him to be open to ceasefire talks. He hinted at this possibility from Kherson

The liberation of Kherson marks the "beginning of the end" of the war with Russia, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on a visit to the city.

Ukraine is "moving forward" and ready for peace, he told soldiers.

He had stressed the government and people are "ready for peace, peace for all our country."

Additionally, Zelensky suggested it wouldn't have been possible without support from the US and Western allies

He thanked Nato and other allies for their support, adding that high mobility artillery rocket systems (Himars) from the United States had made a big difference.

Zelensky last week reiterated that while he's open to talks, Ukraine will never agree to territorial concessions, which makes the possibility of negotiations unlikely, given President Putin has signed into law the Russian Federation's annexation over the four territories of Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhzhia and Kherson. Putin recently called this "non-negotiable" and irreversible. 

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reacted to Zelensky's appearance in Kherson on Monday, saying "We leave this without comment." He added: "You know, this territory is part of the Russian Federation." 

Western media outlets have been reporting on Ukrainian retribution attacks now happening in the city...

Zelensky Visits Kherson, Hailing It As "The Beginning Of The End Of The War"

Meanwhile, President Biden while speaking from the G20 summit in Bali reiterated the US position of "nothing about Ukraine without Ukraine" - responding to a reporter's question about the possibility of a negotiated settlement. Biden further hailed Kherson a "Significant, significant victory for Ukraine." 

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