A Ukrainian official for the first time on Friday acknowledged that Kherson city is “almost under the control of the Armed Forces of Ukraine,” but warned that some Russian troops may have remained behind in civilian clothing.
Serhii Khlan, a member of Ukraine’s Kherson regional council, told an online briefing that “de-occupation of Kherson city and the western bank of the Dnipro is at the final stage.”
He cautioned that many Russian troops “threw away their military uniforms, and are now hiding with civilian clothes on.”
“They will be plotting provocations, false-flag operations in the city,” he said. “There is a lot of work ahead on de-mining and clearing the city.”
Residents of Kherson city with whom CNN has spoken in recent weeks confirmed that many Russian soldiers were using civilian clothing.
Khlan also said that large numbers of Russian troops drowned while trying to flee the city. CNN cannot confirm his claim.
“Our Armed Forces, under a fierce onslaught, destroyed most of the Russians who were fleeing like rats to the left (eastern) bank of the Dnipro,” Khlan said. “They were fleeing along the pontoons they had built under Antonivskyi bridge, leaving their equipment behind. Many Russians have drowned.”
While retreating, he said that Russian forces had detonated explosives at Kherson’s power plant and destroyed part of a TV antenna. Photos of the destroyed TV antenna circulated this morning on Telegram.
“Now since our Armed Forces have actually taken control of the right-bank [western] part of the Kherson region, we can keep the left-bank [eastern] part of Kherson region under fire control, up to the Crimean isthmus,” he said.
He said that communications in the city remained extremely difficult, and that both fuel and electricity were scarce.
“The Ukrainian flag is raised in Kherson city. From now on, the Ukrainian flag will appear on all buildings in Kherson. This is what we have dreamed of from the first days of occupation,” he added.