Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy says Russia destroyed “all critical infrastructure” in the parts of Kherson recaptured by the Ukrainian army over the past week.
Zelenskiy said there is no electricity, no communication, and no television in Kherson, adding that withdrawing Russian troops destroyed everything intentionally.
“This is what the Russian flag means — complete devastation,” Zelenskiy said in his nightly video address after visiting liberated Kherson on November 14, adding all-important facilities in the city and the region are mined.
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Earlier on November 14, Ukrainian national energy company Ukrenergo said Russia had destroyed key energy infrastructure supplying the entire right bank of the Kherson region and a significant part of the Mykolayiv region.
“Most of the liberated Kherson region has been without electricity since November 6,” Ukrenergo chief Volodymyr Kudrytskiy said. “We are doing our best to supply people with electricity as soon as possible.”
The liberation of Kherson at the weekend was one of Ukraine’s biggest successes in nearly nine months since the beginning of the Russian invasion.
During his visit to Kherson, Zelenskiy said the liberation of the city was “the beginning of the end of the war.”
Ukrainian army chief Valeriy Zaluzhniy said he spoke with US General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on November 14 and told him that the Ukrainian military will not accept any negotiations, agreements, or compromise decisions regarding the end of the war.
“I assured that we will fight as long as we have the strength. Our goal is to liberate all Ukrainian land from Russian occupation,” Zaluzhniy said on Facebook. “There is only one condition for the negotiations: Russia must leave all captured territories, ” he said in the social media post.
Zaluzhniy said he also informed Milley about the operational situation and the priority needs of the defense forces.
“The situation at the front is stable and under control. We are closely monitoring the enemy’s actions on the border with Belarus and are building a reliable shield to protect Ukraine from the north,” Zaluzhniy said. “The defense forces, despite the fierce resistance of the occupation forces, continue their offensive in the Kharkiv direction.”
He said Russian forces are actively attacking areas in the east, including Bakhmut and Avdiyivka, but they are not succeeding.
“We hold the defense thanks to the resilience of our advanced units and combat-ready reserves. In the Kherson direction, we are conducting stabilization actions and strengthening the defense lines,” Zaluzhniy added.
US President Joe Biden earlier on November 14 hailed Ukraine’s retaking of the city of Kherson as a “significant victory.”
Biden commented on the development during a press conference after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Bali, Indonesia.
“I can do nothing but applaud the courage, determination and capacity of the Ukrainian people,” he said. “I think you are going to see things slow down a bit because of the winter months…. I think it remains to be seen exactly what the outcome will be.”
Biden also raised Russia’s “irresponsible threats of nuclear use,” according to a White House readout on the meeting.
The White House announced separately that CIA Director Bill Burns would meet in Ankara, Turkey, with Russian intelligence chief Sergei Naryshkin, the head of Russia’s Foreign Intelligence Service (SVR).
Burns underscored the consequences if Russia were to deploy a nuclear weapon in Ukraine, according to a White House spokesperson.
The Kremlin confirmed a US-Russia meeting had taken place in Ankara but declined to give details.
Russian officials have alarmed Western governments by raising the potential use of tactical nuclear weapons after suffering massive setbacks in Ukraine.
The official quoted said there had been no change in the US intelligence assessment and declined to offer further details on the timing of the decision to send Burns to meet with Naryshkin.
The Burns-Naryshkin meeting was the highest-ranking face-to-face engagement between US and Russian officials since before Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion.
Burns was also expected to raise the cases of Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan, two Americans detained in Russia. Washington has pressed Moscow to release the two in a prisoner exchange.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, and RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service