AP PHOTOS: Residents face new reality in retaken Kherson

Dec 2, 2022, 9:20 AM | Updated: Dec 3, 2022, 12:02 am
A resident wounded after a Russian attack lies inside an ambulance before being taken to a hospital...

A resident wounded after a Russian attack lies inside an ambulance before being taken to a hospital in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

(AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

              Elderly residents are evacuated by a local organization from the southern city of Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              Natalia Voblikova, center, reacts after knowing that her son Artur was seriously injured after a Russian strike in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. Doctors had to amputate Artur Voblikov's left arm. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              EDS NOTE: GRAPHIC CONTENT - Viktor Anastasiev waits to be evacuated to a hospital after being injured during a Russian strike in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              Residents of the recently liberated city of Kherson collect water from the Dnipro river bank, near the frontline, southern Ukraine, Monday, Nov. 21, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              A Ukrainian defense force member signs a Ukrainian flag for a resident in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Monday, Nov. 14, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              Ukrainian servicemen fire toward Russian positions in the frontline near Kherson, southern Ukraine, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              Residents plug in mobile phones and power banks at a charging point in downtown Kherson, southern Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              The damaged Antonivsky Bridge is visible in Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2022. The bridge, the main crossing point over the Dnipro river in Kherson, was destroyed by Russian troops in earlier November, after Kremlin's forces withdrew from the southern city. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              A portrait of Russian President Vladimir Putin lies on the ground near the local prison in Kherson, Ukraine, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
            
              Lilia Kristenko, 38, cries as city responders collect the dead body of her mother Natalia Kristenko in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. Natalia Kristenko's dead body lay covered in a blanket in the doorway of her apartment building for hours overnight. The 62-year-old woman had walked outside her home with her husband Thursday evening after drinking tea when the building was struck. Kristenko was killed instantly from a wound to the head. Her husband died hours later in the hospital from internal bleeding. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              Residents queue to fill containers with drinking water in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 20, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              Ukrainian children play at an abandoned checkpoint in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              Residents gathering at an aid distribution point receive supplies in downtown Kherson, southern Ukraine, Friday, Nov. 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              The body of a woman killed during a Russian attack is covered with an emergency blanket before being transported to the morgue in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Friday, Nov. 25, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              Remains of a destroyed school are visible on the outskirts of a recently liberated Oleksandrivka village on the outskirts of Kherson, in southern Ukraine, Wednesday, Nov. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              Local residents look at two alleged collaborators tied by the hands to pillars in Kherson, Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/LIBKOS)
            
              In the village of Tsentralne, Ukrainian family members meet for the first time since Russian troops withdrew from the Kherson region, southern Ukraine, Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. Families were torn apart when Russia invaded in February, as some fled and others hunkered down. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              A sniper unit aims toward Russian positions during an operation, Kherson region, southern Ukraine, Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              An elderly man holds a dog as he walks amid debris after a Russian attack in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              Staff move Arthur Voblikov, 13, to the operating room inside a hospital in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2022. Voblikov was injured after a Russian strike, and doctors had to amputate his left arm. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              Injured residents walk moments after a Russian strike in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
            
              A resident wounded after a Russian attack lies inside an ambulance before being taken to a hospital in Kherson, southern Ukraine, Thursday, Nov. 24, 2022. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

KHERSON, Ukraine (AP) — When Ukraine wrested back Kherson from Russian occupiers nearly a month ago, it was a moment of glory and pride, hailed as the beginning of the end of the war. But hardship for the city’s residents was far from over.

Though free from Russia’s control, the southern city and its surroundings are still living the consequences of nearly nine months of occupation, and feeling the deadly proximity of the Russian forces, now stationed across the Dnieper River.

Taken early in the war, in March, parts of the Kherson region were held by Russia until November, when Ukrainians swept the area, regaining control of the main city — Kherson, with a pre-war population of 200,000 — and other Russian-controlled zones.

The liberation came just weeks after Russia unlawfully annexed Kherson and three more regions following sham referendums. But the Russians dug in on the other side of the Dnieper, with Kherson within reach of their artillery.

Ever since, almost daily shelling and power and water outages have become a new reality. In the cold, people can be seen queuing for food or water rations. They mourn their dead and cover the bodies of new shelling victims that lie in pools of blood. Some draw water from the Dnieper, risking Russian sniper bullets from the other bank.

Unlike villages and towns directly on the frontline, the city of Kherson seemed relatively unscathed. When they regained control in mid-November, Ukrainian authorities organized concerts and the city rejoiced, briefly forgetting the war. Residents hailed arriving troops as heroes and wrapped themselves in Ukrainian flags that soldiers autographed. All beamed with pride and happiness.

Just weeks later, sirens herald ambulances carrying people hurt in the latest shelling. Evidence of possible atrocities by Russian occupiers has emerged in accounts of alleged torture. Facing frequent electricity outages, lines of people charge their phones at communal power spots in the city parks. At night, residents with flashlights rummage through the rubble of their bombed homes.

Some can’t take it. They pack belongings in their cars, take their pets and head for somewhere safer, hoping the war will end soon allow them to return home.

Those who stay are defiant and ready to endure hardship. Children play at abandoned checkpoints raising a Ukrainian flag despite nearby explosions, and other residents seek to shame suspected Russian collaborators tied up in public.

Elsewhere, a framed photo of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin lies on the ground, its glass smashed.

___

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at: https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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AP PHOTOS: Residents face new reality in retaken Kherson