While the Ukrainian military’s resistance against Russia’s invasion has been well-documented, the last few days have seen growing popular defiance of Russian forces. In the south of Ukraine, especially, there have been multiple protests in areas where Russian troops have arrived.
At least several hundred people gathered in the center of Kherson on Saturday to protest the Russian occupation of the Black Sea port.
One video of the demonstrations showed people walking into Kherson’s main square despite the occasional volley of gunfire. Where that gunfire came from is unclear, but a small detachment of Russian soldiers is seen guarding the Regional Council building.
The protesters chanted “Ukrainia,” and the largest cheer went up when a young man waving Ukraine’s blue-and-yellow flag scrambled onto a Russian troop carrier.
One man who attended the protests managed to send a sequence of videos to CNN, saying in broken English: “People want to show that Kherson is Ukraine, and all brave people go into this meeting, not afraid of Russian military.”
There was a further demonstration in Kherson on Sunday. Videos from this event suggest it was smaller but no less determined. An elderly woman looked steadily into the camera in one video and said quietly: “Save our country! Let them all die, together with Putin.”
In the city of Nova Kakhovka, a crowd cheered as an elderly woman brandished a broom and dustpan as a welcome to Russian troops. Two men scrambled up a plinth to raise the Ukrainian flag outside the city hall.
Later, video emerged of smoke rising from among the crowd amid the sound of gunfire. The Ukrainian news agency Interfax said five people had been injured after Russian forces opened fire — apparently above the protestors’ heads — and used stun grenades.
It seemed like almost every town in Kherson was out on Sunday. In Novooleksiika, hundreds sang the national anthem and shouted “Ukraine is above all” as they walked down a rural road.
And in Kalanchak, which lies closer to Crimea, hundreds of people sang the national anthem and shouted “Ukraine is above all” as they walked down a rural road — with multiple generations of locals bound together in national solidarity.
They then unfurled a huge Ukrainian flag and harangued masked and heavily armed Russian soldiers. Women shouted, “Get out of our land, we don’t need you! Get out of our land!”
Since the middle of last week there have been protests against Russia, often involving just a few dozen people, from Berdyansk on Ukraine’s south coast to Konotop, hundreds of miles north between Kyiv and Kharkiv.
Growing defiance on display in Russian-held Ukraine