'Let Me Hug You,' City Tells Returning Troops

Celebration shows Russian claims about Ukrainians in the south and east were wrong, official says
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 12, 2022 4:50 PM CST
'Let Me Hug You,' City Tells Returning Troops
Ukrainians gather in downtown Kherson to celebrate the recapturing of the city on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Nina Lyashonok)

"We waited for you! We love you!" a crowd in Kherson's downtown square called to the first returning Ukrainian troops on Saturday, ending a Russian occupation of nearly nine months. The troops piled out of vehicles and plunged into the crowd for the heroes' welcome, the New York Times reports. Video verified and posted by the Times showed the joyous reception. "Good job!" one woman hollered. "Come here, let me hug you." NBC News also posted footage of the celebration. "We need more soldiers to give them hugs," said documentary filmmaker Aexei Sandakov, who lives in Kherson.

Residents admitted to trepidation, however: Ukraine's victories in the past have been followed by Russian retaliatory strikes. Celebrants worried the city square itself could be a target. "Everybody expects something," one woman said. "Everybody is afraid." The party demonstrated that Russia's argument that people in the south and east of Ukraine want to become part of Russia was bogus, said Roman Lozinsky, a member of Parliament who's in Ukraine's navy. "Even people who speak Russian came to the streets to greet Ukrainian soldiers," he said. A woman who hugged him, Lozinsky said, told him, "Sorry it took so long." Next, the city has to restore electric, water, and internet service. (More Russia-Ukraine war stories.)

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