Peskov Saves Face, Claims Kherson “Remains Russian”: Despite Russian forces withdrawing from Kherson city and surrounding regions in Kherson Oblast, top Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saved face on Friday when he claimed that the territory “remains Russian.”
Kherson city was previously the only regional capital occupied by Russian forces in Ukraine, and Kherson Oblast was one of four territories annexed by Russia in September, despite its forces not having full control of each territory.
According to Russian state news agency TASS, Peskov said that the retreat of Russian forces to the left bank of the Dnieper River in Kherson Oblast does not change Russia’s claim to the territory, and said that Russia doesn’t have any regrets over having “accepted” Kherson Oblast into the Russian Federation.
Peskov said that Kherson’s status as a Russian territory was “fixed” and that no changes were now possible.
“It is a subject of the Russian Federation – it is legally fixed and defined. There are no changes and there can be no changes,” he said.
Peskov also indicated once again that Russia is open to engaging in negotiations with Ukraine, though did not indicate that Russia is willing to back down on any of its demands – meaning any new negotiations, especially with Russians in retreat, are unlikely to end in an agreement.
The conflict, the Kremlin spokesman said, can only end “after its goals have been achieved – or by achieving these goals through peace negotiations.”
Peskov himself admitted that he doesn’t see negotiations working out, however, noting that the position taken by the Ukrainian side means “peace talks are impossible.”
Russian Forces Begin Advance Into Kherson
Despite warnings that Kherson city was turned into a “city of death” by retreating Russian soldiers, who are understood to have laid traps using landmines as they left, Ukrainian forces have officially begun moving into the city.
Videos shared online show ecstatic local citizens celebrating the return of Ukrainian control over the territory.
Serhiy Klan, a member of the Kherson regional council, said that the Ukrainian flag is once again flying in the city.
“From now on, the Ukrainian flag will appear on all buildings in Kherson. This is what we have dreamed of from the first days of occupation,” Khlan said.
Kherson has been under Russian control since the early days of the war. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced on February 27 that Russian forces had completely encircled Kherson, and had captured parts of the city only days into the invasion of Ukraine.
Jack Buckby is a British author, counter-extremism researcher, and journalist based in New York. Reporting on the U.K., Europe, and the U.S., he works to analyze and understand left-wing and right-wing radicalization, and reports on Western governments’ approaches to the pressing issues of today. His books and research papers explore these themes and propose pragmatic solutions to our increasingly polarized society.