The Ukrainian flag flies over the town square of Kherson, as does the EU flag in a symbolic statement that this city too is now part of a European Union candidate country.
“It’s an historic day,” the Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky said while Ukrainians dance in celebration of achieving what some thought was impossible.
Three days to the downfall of liberty and democracy has now become the march of that liberty as Kherson now is also free.
Anticipated for months, with a will they or will they not going on for weeks regarding the Russian retreat, it officially began during arguably one of the year’s busiest day.
Just as US was focused on the midterms, crypto was shocked with FTX, Nasdaq was mooning on inflation cooling, the timing was right for Putin to effectively announce a humiliating defeat.
He thought he could impose his will on a bordering stable democracy. He thought he could turn Ukraine into slaves, much as the Belarusians. Into a dictatorship, a police state to mirror current Moscow.
The Ukrainians however said no. Zelensky said he needed ammo, not a ride. The soldiers defended Kyiv and won the first battle for the airport. Russia retreated, ‘regrouped’ to focus on the bordering east. This summer Ukrainians pushed them right to that very border in Kharkiv.
An attempt by Putin to hit playgrounds changed nothing on the frontlines. Rumors were he had ordered no retreat back in September, but his own army seems to have tied his hands.
This victory most clearly shows that all their resistance, and all that Ukrainians have gone through, was not for nothing. That there is an end and there is a means to free Ukraine.
It also shows that a united Europe and USA remains a formidable power. Neither could allow a narration that contains within it the fall of democracy itself.
Most clearly however this victory shows the fundamental misjudgment of the Russian president himself, Vladimir Putin.
His own intelligence chief was against this adventure. The majority of Russian people were against it according to polls when this first began. Who exactly was in favor of it, besides Putin, is not clear.
Yet he has raised himself above the law and above the people with Russia now paying the cost, both in blood spilled in vain, and in their economy edging towards a collapse.
The question they now musk be asking themself is whether there’s a point to all this, to their continued humiliation.
Even in cold blooded calculations, the only way in numbers this could have made sense was if Russia somehow took all of Ukraine, amounting to about 10% of Russia’s GDP.
They clearly can not. They can not even hold areas by their border. A continuation of this war by Russia, therefore, is just the ego of one man.
He should end all of it, not just in Kherson. The army should perhaps make that clear, that it appears now they just face an endless slow retreat when they can just leave all of the internationally recognized Ukraine.
This mistake moreover clearly indicates Putin is no longer quite in top form. Two decades of ruling can lead to delusion. And he clearly was deluded enough to think that he could so openly attack a democracy.
He can not. He can only attack his own people, but presumably at some point the army will say enough to that too and turn Russia back to 2012 when it was prospering so that we can all forget this utterly wrong turn.