Shrouded in secrecy: Ukraine’s push south reveals devastation left behind by Russian invaders | World News

The southern Ukrainian counterattack to recapture the city of Kherson is known but unknown.

The entire front line was closed to everyone for more than two weeks, indeed it was shrouded in secrecy.

After days of negotiations, the military was satisfied and allowed Sky News to go to the Kherson front line to see what had happened and what was happening.

The towns liberated during the Northern campaign have exposed potential war crimes but have also seen a return to some normal life.

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My first impression while driving through the suburbs of Vysokopillya and passing checkpoints manned by soldiers sheltering under trees rather than the more formal and popular wind-blocking bunkers, was that of the battle. This war is proving difficult and it’s not over.

The soldiers were still too dangerous to set up regular checkpoints.

The Ukrainians could have brought Vysokopillya back and pushed the Russians down the street, but they were only three miles away – in terms of the battlefield, that was a very small change.

The town is smashed, it really is as simple as that.

A handful of people jostle, pushing bicycles through streets strewn with glass, rubble, shrapnel, burned-out cars and trucks, and along the roads lined with shelled houses.


The town center was eerily quiet apart from the noise and explosion of artillery not far away.

The fins of an unexploded rocket look like the metal leaves of a potted plant buried in the ground.

Looks interesting, but deadly.

Curiously, right across the street, the Russians are overseeing a referendum on whether the Kherson region should become part of the Russian Federation.

Until September 5, residents of Vysokopillya will also be forced to vote.

Now the people we spoke to dismiss the referendum as absurd, and certainly not for them.

Halyna insists she won’t take part in the referendum

Halyna, 65, is hard to miss, walking down the street with her bike and dog, and wearing a bright red evening gown.

She looked traumatized, but wanted to talk about life here, and the referendum that took place a few miles away.

“The referendum?” she said, before I could finish my question. “I would never vote for that! I don’t need any ‘Russian world’.”

“People there live normal lives in Moscow, Leningrad and other cities but in their villages I don’t want that life.”

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The Russians say they will never leave. Residents who have stayed or have returned report living in fear and, more importantly, widespread systematic looting.

Ukrainian flag flutters in Vysokopillya

On the road where the Russians retreated, we captured a burnt-out truck apparently loaded with motorbikes, believed to have been stolen.

One of the residents, Bohdan, spoke to me at the entrance to his home, which itself was badly damaged by the bombing.

He told me stealing and looting was standard Russian soldier procedure.

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“They stole everything, cars, even bicycles, all sorts of technical things…everything,” the 71-year-old said.

“If they couldn’t start a car, they towed it away and left nothing behind. They just burned, destroyed and broke everything.”

Vasyl and Nadiya have returned to Vysokopillya

Husband and wife Vasyl and Nadiya also lived under the occupation.

They’ve been gone for a while and are now back, but they’re struggling with what they’ve been through.

“They abused people, beat them up, it was horrible. They didn’t allow us to leave our house,” Nadiya explained.

“Just as we were about to leave, they shot us in the head with a machine gun, so we had to hide. They were afraid we would see where they hid their machines and weapons, even if they had ‘degrees’ there. so we just stayed.” in the basement, because we were afraid to leave. “

“It’s humiliating; I have no words to describe it…”, her husband Vasyl added.


The regional hospital is used by the Russians as its headquarters. Up ahead was a blue car with the infamous ‘Z’ painted on the side.

There are several rows of new graves in the town cemetery for those who died during the occupation and liberation.

Volodya Kostenko showed us inside. He explained that he had joined a group that collected the dead and buried them.

He wept softly by the graves of a family.

Volodya used his car and trailer to pick up the corpses. He told us that he brought 13 people to the cemetery and buried them himself.


Most of those who died were old or sick. But he revealed one person was from a family he said had been shot dead, murdered by the Russians.

He doesn’t know why.

As he spoke, he broke down, left, and cried.

Few people will make it through this war.

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