The first train since the beginning of the Russian invasion arrived on Saturday after an 11-hour journey from the Ukrainian capital Kyiv to the city of Kherson. This is a significant step to restore the connection between Kyiv and this important city located in the south of Ukraine, reports The New York Times.
The train service was restored a week after Ukrainian troops regained control of Kherson from the occupiers. The train that arrived in Kherson in the morning carried 200 passengers and should be the start of a regular line between these cities. Kyrylo Tymoshenko, a senior representative of the Ukrainian presidential office, announced on Telegram.
“This is our winning train! Just like this train, we will return to Kherson everything necessary for a normal life!” Tymoshenko wrote. Video footage posted on social networks shows the train leaving amid cheers from people.
Ukrainian authorities said that the train will run from Kyiv to Kherson on even days and back on odd days. Train services also resumed a few days earlier between Kyiv and Mykolaiv, the devastated port city on the Black Sea coast.
Railway officials said at the time that restoring the connection to Kherson was difficult because Russian forces had heavily mined the tracks as they retreated, leading to explosions that have injured at least nine railway workers in recent days. Kherson was the first major city to be captured by Moscow troops after the February invasion and remained under Russian control until November 11, when Ukrainian troops entered the city.
The retreat of Russian forces from the city across the Dnieper River is a blow to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his conquest plans. This is so far the only withdrawal from the regional capital that Russian troops have held.
During the months of occupation, the people of Kherson were exposed to the Russian assimilation campaign and suppression of Ukrainian identity. In the days following Russia’s withdrawal, reports emerged of brutal interrogations, torture and abuse by Russian soldiers.