Ukrainian soldiers have arrived in central Kherson city, social media video shows
From CNN's Tim Lister and Paul Murphy
The first Ukrainian soldiers have arrived in the middle of Kherson city, where they were greeted by crowds of civilians, according to social media video.
One video showed several soldiers among a crowd in the main Svobody Square being hugged by civilians and taking selfies with them.
One soldier is lifted into the air by the crowd.
The crowd of several dozen civilians, some draped in the Ukrainian flag, is chanting "SZU," the acronym for the Ukrainian Armed Forces.
The Ukrainian flag also appears to have been raised at the city's police headquarters.
8:33 a.m. ET, November 11, 2022
Kherson official confirms city is "almost under the control" of Ukrainian forces
From CNN's Mick Krever in Kyiv
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.
9:55 a.m. ET, November 11, 2022
US intends to purchase 100,000 rounds of artillery ammo from South Korea for Ukraine, official says
From CNN's Oren Liebermann
The US plans to buy 100,000 rounds of artillery ammunition from South Korean arms manufacturers to provide to Ukraine, a US official said, as part of a broader effort to find available weaponry for the high-intensity battles unfolding in Ukraine.
As part of the deal, the US will purchase 100,000 rounds of 155mm howitzer ammunition, which will then be transferred to Ukraine through the US.
The arrangement allows South Korea to stick to its public pledge that it would not send lethal aid to Ukraine. In a statement issued Friday morning, the South Korean Defense Ministry said it had not changed its position on shipping weapons to Ukraine, and that it believed the “end user” of the ammunition is the United States.
“Negotiations are ongoing between the US and Korean companies to export ammunition, in order to make up for the shortage of 155mm ammunition inventories in the US,” the ministry said. The Pentagon said in a statement it has been “in discussion” about “potential sales” of ammunition by the US from South Korea.
But statements from South Korea and the US make clear that the deal, which has been in the works for months, has not yet been finalized. The purchase of such a large supply of artillery ammunition is highly sensitive for South Korea, especially given the recent missile launches and weapon tests conducted by North Korea.
South Korea has taken part in meetings of the Ukraine Defense Contact Group, the multi-national group set up by the United States to identify available stockpiles of weapons and ship them to Ukraine. But Seoul has so far publicly refused to send lethal aid to Ukraine, only delivering non-lethal and humanitarian aid, such as medical supplies and bulletproof vests.
News of the transfer, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes as the US has warned that North Korea is secretly supplying Russia with artillery shells for the war in Ukraine. The intended transfers from both Pyongyang and Seoul highlight the pressure the war has put on the defense industrial bases of US and Russia.
Kherson city was a major prize for Putin. Russia's retreat is a major blow
From CNN's Amy Woodyatt
Russia's announcement that it has completed its withdrawal from the key city of Kherson and nearby areas represents one of the war's most significant moments in months.
Kherson was the only Ukrainian regional capital that Russian forces had captured since February’s invasion. Their withdrawal east across the Dnipro River cedes large swathes of land that Russia has occupied since the early days of the war, and that President Vladimir Putin had formally declared as Russian territory just five weeks ago.
As Russian troops have retreated, Ukrainian troops have pushed forward cautiously, amid warnings from Kyiv that fleeing Russian troops may have left behind a trail of boobytraps and devastation.
The Ukrainian military on Friday said that Russia was destroying critical infrastructure as they retreated, while shelling recently vacated territory from new defensive positions on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.
On Friday the main bridge across the Dnipro River linking Kherson city to the eastern part of the region was destroyed, which would make any attempts by the Ukrainians to pursue fleeing Russians across the river more difficult.
President Volodymyr Zelensky struck a note of caution earlier this week, saying Ukrainian forces would “move very carefully, without emotions, without unnecessary risk." His troops on the southern front lines are exhausted and the land ahead of them is likely to be heavily mined. Pursuing the Russian troops would shed more blood.
And in spite of the retreat, Russia will still retain control of 60% of the Kherson region, including the coastline along the Sea of Azov. So long as Moscow’s troops control and fortify the Dnipro’s east bank, Ukrainian forces will struggle to damage or disrupt the canal that carries fresh water to neighboring Crimea.
While the Kremlin has attempted to put the best possible face on the withdrawal, it is undoubtedly a humiliating setback for President Vladimir Putin, who just weeks ago said residents of Kherson had become Russian citizens "forever."
And while Putin's spokesman insisted Friday that Kherson region remains part of Russia, the facts on the ground tell a different story.
8:21 a.m. ET, November 11, 2022
Ukrainian troops enter Kherson city and residents wave flags in central square
From CNN's Mick Krever in Kyiv, Teele Rebane in Hong Kong, and Gianluca Mezzofiore in London
The Ukrainian military on Friday entered the western edge of Kherson city, according to images on social media geolocated by CNN.
Ukrainian troops can be seen surrounded by residents in Kherson City’s Shumenskyi District.
Residents of Kherson city have also flooded the city’s central square, waving and riasing Ukrainian flags, in other images geolocated by CNN.
10:57 a.m. ET, November 11, 2022
Ukrainians rip down Russian billboards and raise Ukrainian flag on western outskirts of Kherson city
From Mick Krever in Kyiv, Teele Rebane in Hong Kong, and Gianluca Mezzofiore in London
Ukrainian residents of a town on the western outskirts of Kherson city have raised a Ukrainian flag and ripped down Russian propaganda billboards, according to videos on social media geolocated by CNN.
The videos are from the town of Bilozerka, around 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) west of Kherson city.
One video shows a Ukrainian flag flying over a World War Two memorial. Another shows residents tearing down a propaganda billboards with a young girl holding a Russian flag, which read: “Russia is here forever.”
6:16 a.m. ET, November 11, 2022
Six now confirmed dead in Russian strike on Mykolaiv
Some context: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Friday the building was destroyed from the 5th to the 1st floor.
Mykolaiv neighbors the Kherson region, which Russia claims to have illegally annexed but where Ukraine has been retaking swathes of territory, On Friday, Moscow said Russian troops had withdrawn from the region west of the Dnipro River, including the regional capital, Kherson city
5:32 a.m. ET, November 11, 2022
Russian troops leave Kherson region west of the Dnipro River
From CNN's Mick Krever
Russian forces have completed their withdrawal from Ukraine’s Kherson Region west of the Dnipro River, including Kherson city, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday.
“In the Kherson direction, the move of Russian military units to the left bank of the Dnieper River was completed at 0500 [Moscow time] this morning,” the ministry said on its official Telegram channel.
“Not a single piece of military equipment or weaponry was left behind on the right bank,” the statement said, referring to the western side of the river. “All Russian servicemen have moved to the left bank of the Dnieper” it added, using the Russian spelling for the river.
Images and video on social media on Friday showed that the Antonivskyi Bridge, the main conduit over the Dnipro River in the Kherson region, had been destroyed.
An image circulating on social media Friday showed a Ukrainian flag in the center of Kherson, though there is no suggestion that the Ukrainian military is yet in that city.
5:43 a.m. ET, November 11, 2022
Kremlin insists Kherson remains part of Russia
From Anna Chernova
The top Kremlin spokesperson on Friday insisted that Ukraine’s Kherson region remains part of Russia, despite the announcement of a withdrawal from the region west of the Dnipro River.
“This is a subject of the Russian Federation,” Dmitry Peskov said during a regular briefing with journalists. “It has been legally fixed and defined. There can be no changes here.”
Russia not "humiliated": Russia still controls a large portion of the Kherson region -- the area east of the Dnipro River.
When asked directly whether Russia’s retreat was “humiliating” for Putin, Peskov replied: “No.”
The main bridge over the Dnipro River, the Antonivskyi Bridge, has been destroyed, images and video on social media on Friday show.