Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday visited the newly-retaken Kherson city after the Russian retreat.
In a video circulating on Telegram, Zelensky told a group of reporters that he thought it was necessary to visit the city.
“The military takes risks every day, journalists take risks,” he said.
“I think it is necessary to be here and talk about Kherson residents to support people. To make them feel that we are not only talking about it, but we are really returning, really raising our flag.”
“I would also like, in a human way, to get the emotion, the energy from people. It is motivating,” added Zelenskyy.
“We are moving forward,” the Ukrainian president told troops in the regional capital.
“We are ready for peace, peace for all our country.” Zelenskyy also thanked Kyiv’s Western allies for their support in the war against Russia.
On Saturday, crowds celebrated the liberation of Kherson city after Ukrainian forces swept into the regional capital and Russian troops retreated to the east.
But life remains far from normal, with authorities warning residents to be wary of explosives littering the city, and Russian forces still nearby just across the strategically important Dnipro River.
Meanwhile, Ukrainian forces have recaptured 12 settlements in Luhansk since initiating a counteroffensive in September, the top Ukrainian official for the eastern region said Monday, reported media.
“The advance is not easy,” said Serhiy Hayday, head of the Luhansk regional military administration, on national television.
“Every meter passed in the Luhansk region is a continuous struggle for the AFU (Armed Forces of Ukraine).”
The Ukrainian military began a slow probe into the Luhansk region in September, after a rapid advance in the neighbouring Kharkiv region, reported media.
The village of Makiivka was liberated Sunday, according to the military administration, and Ukrainian forces have in recent weeks been pushing towards the road connecting Svatove and Kreminna.
For several weeks, they have said that the road is under their “fire control,” meaning that the Russian military can only use it with a high risk of coming under fire.
“There is heavy fighting in the Luhansk region every day,” Hayday said.
“The recently de-occupied settlements are being heavily shelled.”
“The occupiers know exactly where they are firing, as they were knocked out of these settlements a few days ago and they know how many civilians are there and where they are. That is why we are trying to establish evacuation.”