- The video shows abandoned Russian bunkers on the road in Oleshki
- Zelensky says Ukraine will not stop G20 summit
- Lavrov accused the West of trying to politicize the summit announcement
KHERSON, Ukraine, Nov 15 (Reuters) – Pictures emerged on Tuesday showing Russian troops withdrawing from a city in Ukraine across the Dnipro River from the city of Kherson they surrendered last week, in what may be one of the biggest retreats of the war. water’s edge
President Volodymyr Zelensky told world leaders there would be no let-up in Ukraine’s military campaign to expel Russian troops from his country, following Russia’s victory last week in the only regional capital it has captured since its invasion.
Addressing the G20 summit of major economies in Indonesia via video link, he said, “We will not allow Russia to wait, build up its forces, and then start a new cycle of terrorism and global destabilization.
“I now believe it is time to stop Russia’s destructive war.”
Ukrainian forces marched into Kherson, crowded by jubilant residents, in recent days to claim the biggest prize of the war so far, after Russian President Vladimir Putin declared six weeks ago that the city would remain Russian forever.
Russia said it was pulling its forces across the wide Dnipro River to easier-to-defend positions on the opposite bank. But video shot in the town of Oleshki, across the collapsed bridge over the Dnipro from Kherson, shows no sign of a Russian presence.
A driver sped for miles down a deserted main road without encountering a single Russian checkpoint or flag. Many bunkers along the road appear to have been abandoned. Reuters confirmed the location of the video based on visible landmarks.
Ukraine’s military said overnight it had fired at enemy positions in Oleshki, but Ukrainian officials did not comment on images showing Russian troops withdrawing from there.
“Ukraine has the initiative and the momentum and is dictating to the Russians where and when the next fight will happen,” said former senior British military intelligence officer Philip Ingram.
On Monday, Zelensky visited Kherson, where he celebrated the victory, shaking hands with soldiers and waving to civilians. He said Ukraine had already collected evidence of at least 400 war crimes, including killings and kidnappings, committed by Russian troops during their eight-month occupation.
Russia, for its part, has recently said it is focusing on eastern Ukraine, where it said it captured Pavlivka, a key village in the Donetsk region. Kiev says Russia has suffered heavy losses in attacks in the east, with some gains.
The war was a focal point of the G20 summit, where Western leaders condemned Moscow. Russia is a member and Ukraine is not, but Russian President Vladimir Putin remains at home.
In his speech to world leaders on the Indonesian island of Bali, Zelensky outlined a peace proposal that would see Russia withdraw all its forces from Ukraine, release all prisoners and reaffirm Ukraine’s territorial integrity.
He would extend indefinitely the plan to secure Ukrainian grain exports, and extend it beyond the reach of Russian guns to the port of Mykolaiv after the Kherson advance.
“Please choose your path to leadership – we will surely implement the peace formula together,” he said.
The US expects the G20 to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine and its impact on the global economy, a senior US official said. A consensus on Russia’s membership in Ukraine is unlikely, and the official declined to say what form the condemnation would take.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who headed Russia’s delegation in Putin’s absence, accused the West of trying to politicize the summit’s declaration.
Moscow says it is carrying out a “special military operation” in Ukraine to protect Russian-speakers. Ukraine and the West call it an unprovoked war of aggression.
Ukrainian officials said Kherson’s capture further undermined arguments that any peace talks would have to agree to cede land.
“Ukrainian servicemen will not accept talks, agreements or compromise decisions,” General Valery Zalushny wrote in a Telegram on Monday after a telephone conversation with US Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.
Olga Fedorova, an English teacher in Kherson, said many residents were unaware of the events until Ukrainian troops raised their flag in the main square on November 11, without electricity or internet.
“We couldn’t believe, we still can’t believe that our Ukrainian army is here,” he said. “So long, these eight and a half months we’ve been waiting for them.”
Residents in and around Kherson interviewed by Reuters since Friday described killings and abductions, including the shooting death of a neighbor and three accounts of people being abducted by troops in the village of Blahodatne.
The accounts could not be independently verified. Russia denies committing atrocities in occupied territories.
In Mykolaiv, a city of about half a million people under Russian bombardment throughout the war, the Kherson advance was happy to push Moscow’s guns out of range.
In the cratered district, history teacher and boxing coach Pavel Salohub, 28, said he hadn’t heard a single explosion in four days – the first respite since the invasion.
“Emotionally everyone is happy, you can feel it. It’s the first thing everyone talks about,” he said.
(Reporting by Jonathan Lande, Tom Balmforth and Reuters Bureau) Writing by Peter Graff Editing by William McLean
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