A resident from the Ukrainian city of Kherson told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that Russian soldiers are in Kherson but insisted that the city is a “Ukrainian city and we want to stay a Ukrainian city.”
“Our city is… flooded with Russian occupants, but the flag is still Ukrainian and we hope it will stay Ukrainian,” 27-year-old Kherson resident Svetlana Zorina said. “We trust our mayor. We trust our government. We trust our army. We believe in our victory. We are a Ukrainian city, and we want to stay a Ukrainian city,” Zorina said.
Kherson Mayor Ihor Kolykhaiev said Wednesday in a statement shared on his Facebook page that the Ukrainian military is no longer in the city and that its inhabitants must now carry out the instructions of “armed people who came to the city’s administration” —indicating that the city has now fallen under Russian control.
British military intelligence released early Thursday noted that “some Russian forces have entered the city of Kherson,” but cautioned that the military situation on the ground “remains unclear.”
In a statement on Thursday, Hennadii Lahuta — the head of the Kherson Regional State Administration — said Russian forces have “completely occupied” the regional state administration building.
Kherson resident Zorina described to Amanpour the situation on the ground in the city. “We try not to go outside because it’s dangerous. Today, for the first time, I realized to check near a store like a hundred meters from me, if they have some food, but there was nothing because we are surrounded by Russians, and it’s impossible to deliver here food or medicine.”
“So we basically trying to save what we can and we have food supplies, but it will be enough for a couple of weeks,” she said.
Zorina said that the city’s administration is carrying out tasks despite Russian disinformation. “Our mayor is in contact with us, and city administration is in contact with us. There are Telegram channels. There is a web site of our mayor’s office, and they share information, spread information with us,” she told CNN.
“There is a huge propaganda that Russians tried to spread among Kherson and Ukrainian people, it’s like we want to become a part of Crimea. It’s not true. We don’t want to. The mayor just tells us how the city will function during the next couple of days, that transport will work for people who work in, you know, electric station, water station, et cetera.”
When asked by Amanpour about the Russian presence in the city, Zorina said that Russian soldiers are “not aware why did they come here, what is their goal, and they treat —Russian army treat the soldiers very badly. They are crying… our people are feeding them.”
Zorina described a grave humanitarian situation in the city as a result of Russian aggression and said that there were a “lot of civilian buildings that were struck… people are sitting in the apartments or basements, and woman — women who are pregnant gave birth to their children in basements.”
“I don’t want to leave. I don’t want to become a refugee. I want to live in my country. I was born in Kherson. I lived here almost all my life, and I don’t want to change it, and I hope it’s going to be over soon, and Russian army going to leave, occupants are going to leave,” she said.
“I want to live in Ukraine. I’m Ukrainian,” she added.