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Despatch from Kherson: Inside the city occupied by Russian forces through the eyes of a Ukrainian resistance volunteer

Officially, the port city of Kherson was one of the first in Ukraine to fall under Russian control.

It’s a strategically valuable city, straddling both the Dnieper River and the Black Sea, and home to more than 280,000 people.

Analysts say controlling Kherson offers much to Russia’s forces by both blocking Ukraine’s access to the sea and linking the territories in Donetsk and Luhansk with the peninsula of Crimea.

But the occupation is not proving comfortable according to messages Sky News has received from a Ukrainian local resistance volunteer in the city on Friday, communicated through a contact in the UK.

The latest map shows Kherson and the area around it as Russian controlled. Pic: ISW

Pictures taken over several days from the city show protesters carrying the Ukrainian flag filing past Russian vehicles emblazoned with the letter Z – and Russian soldiers aiming their weapons at civilians.

The messages offer a glimpse of life under Russian occupation. These are the volunteer’s words:

Russian soldiers aimed their weapons at a Ukrainian protest filing past
Russian soldiers aimed their weapons at a Ukrainian protest filing past

Life in Kherson at the moment in relation to other cities is relatively calm.

Fights are going on in the vicinity of the city.

Kherson is completely occupied by Russian invaders.

The military is constantly moving around the city, but the Ukrainian flag continues to hang over the City Council.

The occupants tried to hold a fake referendum, but the population of the city came out to protest and frustrated all their plans.

Due to the complete blockade of the city, there are big problems with food supplies.

The big shops are closed. Mostly small retail outlets operate and agricultural products are brought from the suburbs.

The demonstrations against the presence of Russian soldiers has been regular
The demonstrations against the presence of Russian soldiers has been regular

Children sit in shelters; schools and kindergartens do not work. The outskirts of the city are destroyed, many victims among the local population.

The invaders are robbing stores. But life in the city goes on, people help each other.

And in general, the population of the city is patriotic. Glory to Ukraine!

A Ukrainian flag flies outside a building in central Kherson
A Ukrainian flag flies outside a building in central Kherson

Ukrainian television is turned off in the city today. It is possible to watch the broadcast of Ukrainian TV via the Internet.

Volunteers have organised in the city in different microdistricts, one of them includes me and my friends.

We deliver medicines and products to orphanages and hospitals that are given by businessmen and citizens who are not indifferent.

Protesters hold huge Ukrainian flags in central Kherson
Protesters hold huge Ukrainian flags in central Kherson

About the resistance by the occupiers, every day there are demonstrations under Ukrainian flags, thousands of citizens come out to protest.

Of course there are problems with water and electricity, but the city authorities are trying to repair the damage as much as possible.

What will happen next with food is not known, the occupiers do not let the humanitarian cargo pass.

They want the townspeople to take food from them, but no one takes their help. We all believe in the imminent victory of the Ukrainian army.

But a lot depends on the determination and support of our Western friends.

I will not write to you about the hostilities and the participation of me or any of my acquaintances in hostilities or resistance, for obvious reasons.

I can only say that on a signal the Earth will burn under the feet of the invaders.


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