Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine was reclaiming the south of his country after nearly nine months of fighting.
“Today is a historic day. We are reclaiming the south of the country, we are reclaiming Kherson,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.
He added: “At the moment our defenders are on the outskirts of the city and we are about to enter. But special units are already in the city.”
Moscow yesterday announced the completion of the withdrawal of 30,000 troops from the region, but authorities believe the evacuation has been underway for some time.
Ukraine painted the picture of a desperate retreat with Russian soldiers ditching their uniforms and abandoning their equipment. Putin claimed the whole of Kherson was part of Russia just five weeks ago.
The rout marks the third major retreat of Russian forces since the February 24 invasion.
Moscow forces around Kyiv in the north of the country fled in April after facing fierce Ukrainian resistance and a logistical breakdown.
In September, Russian lines around Kharkiv collapsed in the face of a massive Ukrainian counter-offensive – this saw Kyiv forces recapture huge swaths of occupied territory.
Now Russian forces appear to have evacuated most, if not all, positions on the west side of the Dnipro River, including the strategically important city of Kherson.