Key developments on Nov. 11:
- Prosecutors: Bodies of civilians found in liberated parts of Kherson Oblast
- Ukraine returns 45 POWs from Russian captivity
- Ukraine building a wall at border with Belarus
- Germany to send Ukraine additional 1 billion euros for cyber defense, documenting war crimes.
“Today is a historic day. We are recapturing the south of our country, recapturing Kherson,” President Volodymyr Zelensky said in his evening address on Nov. 11.
“The people of Kherson were waiting. They never gave up on Ukraine. Hope on Ukraine(‘s liberation) is always fulfilled — and Ukraine always recaptures what belongs to it.”
Ukraine’s Armed Forces entered the city of Kherson on Nov. 11. The city, which was Russia’s biggest gain after Feb. 24, and most of Kherson Oblast had been under Russian occupation since the early days of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
After more than eight months of occupation, local residents went to the streets to greet Ukrainian soldiers and celebrate the liberation, as seen on multiple videos circulating online.
Russian forces have completely withdrawn from the west bank of the Dnipro River, where the city of Kherson sits, on Nov. 11, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu ordered the retreat on Nov. 9.
After Shoigu’s order, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, commander-in-chief of Ukraine’s Armed Forces, said that Kyiv continued the offensive operation in the region in accordance with its initial plan — without any rush.
The commander added that from Oct. 1 to Nov. 9, Ukraine had recaptured 1,381 square kilometers and liberated over 41 settlements in the south.
Kherson Oblast was among the four Ukrainian regions that Russia claimed to have annexed in September. Neither Ukraine nor Western allies or the UN have recognized Russia’s annexation of the Ukrainian territories.
After Russia’s retreat from Kherson, Kremlin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia continues to consider Kherson its territory, despite the withdrawal of its troops from the city, according to Russian state-controlled news agency TASS.
Peskov didn’t comment on Russian military leadership’s decision to leave Kherson.
Following the liberation of the settlements in the oblast, the Prosecutor General’s Office said law enforcement has found the remains of three civilians killed during Russia’s occupation of Beryslav, Kherson Oblast.
The bodies, which will be sent for further inspection, reportedly had fractured skulls and were found in a cellar.
Another prisoner swap
On Nov. 11, President’s Office Head Andriy Yermak said Ukraine has returned 45 POWs from Russian captivity. He added that the bodies of two killed soldiers were also returned to Ukraine.
During the previous exchange on Nov. 3, Russia released 107 Ukrainian prisoners of war, including 74 defenders of the Azovstal steel plant.
Ukraine has returned over 1,000 civilians and military personnel from Russian captivity since March, according to Zelensky.
On the battlefield
The Institute for the Study of War said in its latest assessment it believes that the major Ukrainian victory in Kherson Oblast will not be Ukraine’s last.
The experts predict that fighting will continue on the southern axis, in the eastern Donetsk Oblast’s Bakhmut — the only area Russian forces are still attempting meaningful offensives — and in northern Luhansk Oblast, as Ukrainian forces continue counteroffensive operations.
“Russian officials are busy attempting to train 120,000 conscripts to deploy to the front lines in the spring,” the ISW writes. “Ukrainian forces likely aim to liberate as much occupied territory as possible before those Russian reinforcements arrive.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Nov. 4 that Russia had conscripted 318,000 citizens, 49,000 of which are already fighting in Ukraine.
“A wintertime ceasefire would only benefit Russian forces, who would use that opportunity to bolster their faltering defenses and continue their genocidal campaign to eradicate Ukrainian identity in occupied parts of Ukraine,” the ISW said.
The General Staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported on Nov. 11 that Russia has lost 710 troops in the past day, bringing the total number of Russian soldiers killed since the start of the full-scale invasion to 79,400.
Ukraine’s military also said it had liberated 12 settlements in Kherson Oblast, including Dudchany, Piatykhatky, Borozenske, Sadok, Bezvodne, Ishchenka, Kostromka, Krasnoliubetsk, Kalynivske, Bobrovy Kut, Bezimenne, and Blahodatne, on Nov. 9.
While retreating, Russian forces might have mined large areas, buildings, and other facilities that provide humanitarian needs for the civilian population, the military warned.
At the same time, Ukraine’s military targeted two concentrations of Russian firepower, Southern Operational Command reported on Nov. 11. It has also said that the Ukrainian army killed 50 Russian troops and destroyed three tanks, a Msta-S self-propelled howitzer, and 11 armored vehicles on the southern front line in the past day.
The command added that Russia now has 17 ships in the Black Sea, including two missile carriers with 16 Kalibr cruise missiles on board.
Following an increased amount of Russian strikes on Ukraine’s energy infrastructure in recent weeks, the U.K. Defense Ministry said that Russia intends to “strike at civilian morale,” as those attacks are impacting critical services for civilians, such as health care and heating.
“The continued prioritization of critical national infrastructure over military targets strongly implies Russian intent to strike at civilian morale,” the report reads.
The consequences of the strikes will be felt the most in winter when the demand increases, the intelligence believes.
Since Oct. 10, Russia has repeatedly launched mass attacks at Ukraine’s critical infrastructure facilities, destroying up to 40% of the country’s energy system, according to Zelensky.
Ukrainian authorities implemented scheduled and emergency blackouts across the country to stabilize the power system’s operation.
Attacks and casualties
Overnight on Nov. 11, Russian forces targeted energy infrastructure in Vinnytsia Oblast, Governor Serhii Borzov reported. According to the official, there were no casualties.
In Mykolaiv, the death toll of the Nov. 10 Russian strike on a five-story residential building has grown to five, Mykolaiv Oblast Governor Vitalii Kim said. The attack also wounded two people.
Zelensky earlier called the strike “the terrorist state’s cynical response to our successes at the front.”
“Russia does not give up its despicable tactics. And we will not give up our struggle. The occupiers will be held to account for every crime against Ukraine and Ukrainians,” he said.
In the eastern Donetsk Oblast, Russian forces have killed two and wounded five civilians in the past 24 hours, according to Pavlo Kyrylenko, the oblast governor. The official also reported that the bodies of six more people killed by Russian troops during the occupation have been discovered in the liberated villages of Drobysheve and Yarova.
Kharkiv Oblast Governor Oleh Syniehubov reported that Russia has recently hit several settlements in the oblast, wounding a 42-year-old man.
Dnipropetrovsk Oblast was hit by Grad multiple launch rocket systems and heavy artillery on Nov. 11, according to the oblast governor Valentyn Reznichenko.