Russia announced that their troops had taken control of the Ukrainian city of Kherson the morning of Wednesday, March 2. The city of 300,000 in southern Ukraine was the scene of fierce fighting, as videos shared by residents showed soldiers and tanks in the main square. In one video, a man brandishes the Ukrainian flag in front of invading soldiers.
A civilian holds two Ukrainian flags in front of three tanks, lined up in Kherson’s Freedom Square. The video, posted on March 2, the day that Russian troops arrived in the city, was shared widely on social media.
The tanks are emblazoned with the letter “Z” painted in white, a distinctive sign of Russian military equipment, used to distinguish Russian vehicles from Ukrainian ones since the start of the offensive in February. In front, soldiers wearing white armbands – another identifying mark used by Russian troops – challenge the man who continues to wave the flags.
The FRANCE 24 Observers team was able to confirm that this video was indeed taken in Kherson, in front of the regional administration building. In another video, likely filmed a bit earlier, we can see the same person grabbing the flags.
The video’s caption reads, “In Kherson, some very courageous people took the Ukrainian flag that the occupiers had tried to remove from the administration building.”
In this second video, a soldier is first seen walking away from the administration building with a rolled-up Ukrainian flag. Four people in civilian clothes approach him. They face each other, hidden from view by vegetation. The soldier appears to back away and the civilians then unfurl three Ukrainian flags and wave them around.
“Glory to the heroes of Ukraine!” shouts the person filming. According to the video’s caption, the civilians stole the flags from the Russian soldiers in a brave act of defiance against the Russian invasion.
Soldiers and tanks filmed in the streets
Fighting has been going on in the city of Kherson for several days, as seen in a video released on March 1, showing tanks and soldiers in the streets:
The video, geolocated by @arturkesik on Twitter and verified by the FRANCE 24 Observers team, was filmed in the north of Kherson. Filmed from the window of a building, the video shows two tanks, one of which has a “Z” sign on the side, parked at an intersection. Around 15 men in uniform run across the street.
Russian armed forces took control of the town on Tuesday night, March 2. On Wednesday, a photo showed about 15 armoured vehicles in front of the Kherson regional administration building. The date and time – March 2 at 2:15am – can be seen at the top left of the image, taken by a surveillance camera.
The video was published on Telegram on March 2. We can identify the administration building in the background.
The head of the Kherson regional administration, Gennady Laguta, announced at 9am on Wednesday that the city was “completely cordoned off by the enemy”. However, Kherson Mayor Igor Kolykaev announced the same day on Facebook that the city was still Ukrainian.
The Russian offensive in Ukraine began on February 24. On the same day, the Russian ministry of defence announced that Russian troops had arrived in Kherson and captured the North Crimean Canal, which supplies the peninsula with drinking water. The canal was closed following Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, and its restoration has been widely publicised in Russia.