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President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy presented state awards to the servicemen who distinguished themselves during the liberation of Kherson and the region. (Source: President Of Ukraine/Wikimedia)
It has been a month since the massive win for Ukraine. Kherson was finally liberated after a carefully calculated, strong counteroffensive. It was a huge moment for its residents hoping to reunite with their families after months-long separation. There were videos showing parents and grandparents hugging Ukrainian soldiers and thanking them for their sacrifice and hard work. We also saw Ukrainian soldiers celebrating by putting up Ukrainian flags on various regional residential and commercial infrastructures.
But one month in, as much as the residents would like to celebrate their independence, this extended war (going past winter) makes them relive the fear and despair they had felt while under Russia’s pseudo governance.
Kherson, One of Russia’s Target Cities Since Day 1
Kherson is a port city located south of Ukraine, on the west bank of the Dnipro River. It has long been considered a critical strategic location for both Russia and Ukraine. The city has been under Russian control since March 2. Kherson has a major port on the Black Sea, providing access to Crimea ports and oil fields in the Black Sea region. It also serves as a gateway to other major cities in Eastern Europe, including Odessa.
Kherson is an important strategic asset for Russia due to its proximity to oil fields, shipping channels, and military bases in Crimea and eastern Ukraine. Russia’s annexation of Crimea means it now controls many natural resources and transport routes within the Black Sea region. This gives them an advantage over its rivals in terms of trade, commerce, and military capabilities. Furthermore, Kherson’s location as an important agricultural center makes it even more valuable for Russia’s regional interests.
As for Ukraine, they need Kherson’s independence for several reasons. First, Kherson contains some key infrastructure, such as ports and railroads, that are essential for Ukrainian trade with Europe and other countries outside Russia’s sphere of influence. Additionally, regaining control over this area would provide access to crucial energy sources such as oil and gas reserves which could help Ukraine gain some economic stability after years of conflict with Russia. In addition to this, retaking Kherson would also enable Ukrainian forces to secure their border with Russia preventing further incursions from the east by pro-Russian forces or Russian troops themselves.
Kherson’s Residents Remember Their Trauma
After claiming Kherson, Russian shelling killed about 41 people in the region, including one child, while 96 others were hospitalized. Yaroslav Yanushevich, Kherson’s regional governor, said two others died during one of the Russian night attacks.
“The enemy again attacked the residential quarters of Kherson. Last night, two people were killed due to Russian shelling,” he wrote on Telegram.
At the same time, Russians targeted their electricity, and even after they were liberated, their power supply remained unreliable, with only 70-80 percent of the city getting indoor heating.
The Ukrainians are trying to find a way to gain some normalcy in the city, and their police forces are conducting an ongoing investigation. Ukrainian troops are reportedly clearing massive areas of mines, so many places in the city are still unusable for its residents.
“The difficulties are very simple, it’s the weather conditions,” one unnamed military demining squad member told the AP, adding that some of their equipment simply does not work in frost conditions “because the soil is frozen like concrete.”
The residents have somewhat become numb to the fact that Russians are just beside their borders. However, new reports show the Russians are still pushing towards Kherson, lambasting the city with missile attacks directed towards residential areas. Dnipro River has been a critical point for Ukrainians, Russians, and the ones who control this has the advantage.
In an interview with New York Times, one woman warned reporters to be “careful” because she knows the “Russians are not far.” Then, last week, an older woman was reportedly killed while trying to cross Kherson. The Ukrainians are blaming Russian soldiers for the killing, saying the woman was crossing the river when a “hail of automatic gunfire” was shot toward her. The Russians have not commented on this yet.
“A 65-year-old woman who was crossing the Dnipro River with her husband on a boat, leaving a country house in the Hola Prystan district, was wounded by automatic fire. Unfortunately, the woman did not survive,” the statement read.
Last week, more residents were encouraged by the Ukrainian government to flee the city, warning of a “possible intensification of hostilities.” However, many residents have complained about how poorly planned the evacuation was since they were asked to escape using private boats across the Dnipro River, where both armies are firing at each other. On the other hand, the Ukrainian authorities responded by saying that the area around the river was not part of the plan.
The evacuation reportedly prohibited people from traveling by boat on the river. Instead, residents were encouraged to follow the “daylight river corssings for three days, Saturday, Sunday and Monday.”
Agriculture Critical to Ukraine’s Longevity
Agriculture is integral to the Ukrainian economy, and Kherson is a critical region for crop production. The Kherson region produces diverse crops such as wheat, tomatoes, watermelon, and more. These crops are important in providing food security and income to millions of Ukrainians. Unfortunately, they have been heavily mined due to the conflict with Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, which has reduced the amount of arable land available for planting in the spring.
This issue of reduced arable land is serious as it could lead to agricultural losses that could severely impact the Ukrainian economy. The loss of agricultural yield would create an even greater dependence on food imports from other countries and disrupt supply chains necessary for economic stability. Therefore, protecting Kherson’s agrarian yield is essential for Ukraine’s economic survival.
It is about keeping crops safe so they can be harvested and ensuring sustainable crop management practices are adopted to enhance future yields. Sustainable practices include:
Implementing fertilizer management systems.
Investing in better irrigation infrastructure.
Diversifying cropping systems and investing in climate-smart agriculture practices such as agroforestry and conservation agriculture to ensure resilience against extreme weather events such as drought or flood.
These initiatives could improve productivity and yields despite the land being mined by conflict activities.
In addition, improved access to credit facilities, inputs (chemical fertilizers & pesticides), technological advancements (like soil analysis) as well as training in modern farming techniques all play a crucial role in enhancing productivity levels by helping farmers increase their incomes above subsistence levels and enabling them to invest back into their operations & expand their activities sustainably while addressing negative environmental impacts caused by unsustainable farming practices like monoculture planting & pesticide overuse.
Protecting Kherson’s agricultural yield is essential for Ukraine’s economic survival. Sustainable approaches must be taken to reduce the effects of landmines on arable land while modernizing farming techniques through increased access to credit facilities, technology advancements & training opportunities will further aid farmers in increasing their incomes & improving productivity levels despite lessened resources due to conflict activities. With this combination of measures, Kherson’s agricultural activities should continue producing high-yielding crops despite current circumstances.
Hope for Ukraine
Kherson is still proving to be the hope for Ukraine. After months of occupation by Russia-backed separatists, Kherson has been liberated and is now a symbol of freedom and resilience for Ukrainians. This was made possible after a carefully calculated and successful counteroffensive in which Ukrainian soldiers could break through the Russian-backed lines and liberate the region from their control.
Despite its current challenges, Kherson’s liberation has resulted in an outpouring of joy for its citizens. Parents, children, and grandparents have welcomed each other with open arms after months of separation due to the conflict. Unions between family members that had been broken apart have been restored, signaling hope for new beginnings in the Ukrainian city. The celebration of Kherson’s liberation has also been seen through the many flags flown around town as a sign of patriotism.
The hope Kherson provides comes not only from its newfound freedom but also from its strategic importance to Ukraine. It serves as an economic stronghold for the country and a symbol of strength against Russian aggression, which has been rampant over recent years.
Kherson also offers Ukrainians something more intangible: hope for unity and peace in times of war and upheaval. Therefore, its liberation should not be taken lightly; it marks a major victory against Russian interference in Ukraine’s affairs. Through this success story, Ukrainians can begin to look forward to ending the current conflict peacefully while preserving their sovereignty as an independent nation-state free from outside influence or manipulation by foreign powers such as Russia. In this sense, Kherson serves as a tangible success story and a beacon of hope for future generations who will be inheriting this conflict and its aftermath.
Kherson stands at a critical moment in history for Ukraine – where one wrong move could lead to disaster or great victory, depending on how things unfold. As such, the city serves not only as an example of what can be achieved through determination and resilience during difficult times but also offers Ukrainians much-needed optimism amidst these tumultuous times they are facing today – making it undoubtedly an important part in determining what kind of future lies ahead them.
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