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War not over, officials warn celebrating Ukrainians

War not over, officials warn celebrating Ukrainians
People in Kyiv gathered to celebrate the retreat of Russian forces from Kherson. (AFP)

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Ukrainian officials have warned “the war is not over” after Russia’s withdrawal from Kherson, even as celebrations continue over the weekend.

Cheering crowds welcomed Ukrainian troops to the city – the only regional capital taken by Moscow since February – on Friday.

Similarly jubilant scenes were reported in other regions across Ukraine, including the capital, Kyiv, and Odesa.

But despite the blow to Moscow’s ambitions, officials remain cautious.

Yuriy Sak, an adviser to the Ukrainian defence minister, warned the BBC it was “too early to relax”.

“We always believed that we would liberate Kherson,” he told Radio 4’s Today programme. “And we are confident that now Russians are beginning to believe that they will never be able to win this war. We see the panic in their ranks. We see the panic in their propaganda machine.

“But of course, this is a very important moment, but… this war is far from over.”

Kherson lacks running water, medicines and food, but emergency supplies are starting to arrive from nearby Mykolaiv, an aide to the city’s mayor says.

The aide, Roman Golovnya, says 70-80 000 people live in Kherson now, out of a pre-war population of 320 000.

President Volodymyr Zelensky said that “before fleeing from Kherson, the occupiers destroyed all critical infrastructure – communications, supply of water, heat, electricity”.

It is not yet clear when electricity will be restored to the city – nearby areas are expected to get it back in a few days’ time. The power cuts prevented Kherson’s bakeries from making bread.

Ukrainian forces have begun the huge task of dismantling Russian mines and booby-traps in and around Kherson, Zelensky said.

Meanwhile, Ukrainian TV has resumed broadcasts in the area – a key source of news for many Ukrainians. (BBC)