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Zelenskyy: Battle for Kherson was D-Day-like watershed

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KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Tuesday likened the recapture of the southern city of Kherson to the Allied landings in France on D-Day in World War II, saying both were watersheds on the road to eventual victory.

Speaking via video link to a Group of 20 summit in Indonesia, Zelenskyy said Kherson’s liberation from eight months of Russian occupation was “reminiscent of many battles in the past, which became turning points in the wars.”

“It’s like, for example, D-Day — the landing of the Allies in Normandy. It was not yet a final point in the fight against evil, but it already determined the entire further course of events. This is exactly what we are feeling now,” he said.

The retaking of Kherson was one of Ukraine’s biggest successes in the nearly 9-month-old Russian invasion and dealt another stinging blow to the Kremlin. But large parts of eastern and southern Ukraine remain under Russian control and fighting continues. Ukrainian authorities on Tuesday reported another civilian death, from Russian shelling, in eastern Ukraine — adding to the invasion’s heavy toll of many tens of thousands killed and wounded.

The liberation of Kherson — the only provincial capital that Moscow had seized — has sparked days of celebration in Ukraine and allowed families to be reunited for the first time in months. But as winter approaches, the city’s remaining 80,000 residents are without heat, water or electricity, and short on food and medicine.

Still, U.S. President Joe Biden called it a “significant victory” for Ukraine. Speaking on the sidelines of the G-20 summit, Biden added: “We’re going to continue to provide the capability for the Ukrainian people to defend themselves.”

In his address to the G-20, Zelenskyy called for the creation of a special tribunal to try Russian military and political figures for the crime of aggression against Ukraine, and the creation of an international mechanism to compensate Kyiv for wartime deaths and destruction.

Zelenskyy referred to the G-20 meeting as “the G-19 summit,” adhering to Kyiv’s line that Russia should be excluded from the grouping.

“Everywhere, when we liberate our land, we see one thing — Russia leaves behind torture chambers and mass burials. … How many mass graves are there in the territory that still remains under the control of Russia?” Zelenskyy pointedly asked.

Ukrainian authorities say there are signs of atrocities emerging in Kherson, just as in other liberated areas.

Zelenskyy made a triumphant surprise visit on Monday to Kherson. He hailed the Russian retreat from the southern city as the “beginning of the end of the war,” but also acknowledged the heavy price Ukrainian soldiers are paying in their grinding effort to push back Russia’s invasion forces.

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Joanna Kozlowska contributed to this report from London.

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

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