Stories of Ukrainian resistance revealed after Kherson pullout.
Two Russian soldiers walked down a street in Kherson on a spring evening in early March, just days after Moscow captured the city. The temperature that night was still below freezing and the power was out, leaving the city in complete darkness as the soldiers made their way back to camp after a few drinks.
As one stumbled on, the other stopped to relieve himself on the side of the pavement. Suddenly, a knife was thrust deep into the right side of his neck.
“I finished the first one immediately and then I caught up with the other and killed him on the spot,” says Archie, a Ukrainian resistance fighter who described the scene above to CNN.
“I saw the orcs in uniform and I thought, why not?,” Archie adds, using a derogative term for Russians, as he walks through that same street. “There were no people or light and I seized the moment.”
The 20-year-old is a trained mixed martial arts fighter, with nimble feet and sharp reflexes, who had previously always carried a knife for self-defense, but never killed anyone. CNN is referring to him by his call sign to protect his identity.
“Adrenaline played its role. I didn’t have any fear or time to think,” he says. “For the first few days I felt very bad, but then I realized that they were my enemies. They came to my home to take it from me.”
Archie’s account was backed up by Ukrainian military and intelligence sources who handled communications with him and other partisans. He was one of many resistance fighters in Kherson, a city of 290,000 people before the invasion, which Russia tried to bend but could not break.
People in Kherson made their views clear soon after Russia took over the city on March 2 coming out onto the main square for daily protests, donning the blue and yellow Ukrainian flag.
But Kherson, the first large city and only regional capital Russian troops were able to occupy since the start of the invasion, was an important symbol for Moscow. Dissent could not be tolerated.
Protesters were met with tear gas and gunshots, organisers and the more outspoken residents were arrested and tortured. When peaceful demonstrations didn’t work, the people of Kherson turned to resistance and ordinary citizens like Archie started to take action on their own.
Initially solo operations, like-minded residents began organising themselves in groups, coordinating their actions with the Ukrainian military and intelligence outside the city.