Photos: The emotional scenes as the 1st train from Kyiv arrives in liberated Kherson

by | Nov 22, 2022 | Top Stories

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Oksana Shevliuha, 51, wears a Ukrainian flag as she greets her daughter, Anastasia, who arrived on the first train to reach liberated Kherson on Saturday. They had not seen each other for six months. The first Ukrainian Railways train arrived in Kherson following a Russian occupation that lasted more than eight months.

Carol Guzy for NPR

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Carol Guzy for NPR

As Ukraine’s nine-month war grinds on, the arrival of Ukrzaliznytsia, the national railway, has become synonymous with liberation in previously Russian-occupied cities and towns. When Ukrainian forces recapture areas from Russia, residents have come to expect a few immediate things: seeing the Ukrainian flag raised over administration buildings or other landmarks, the arrival of badly needed medicine, food and generators, perhaps the installation of a temporary cell tower. But the most powerful sign of liberation is when a Ukrainian Railways train pulls into town. So when Kherson, liberated nearly two weeks ago from eight months of brutal Russian occupation, greeted its first passenger train from Kyiv on Saturday, it was a moment to celebrate. Family members who’d been separated for months poured out onto the platform and embraced their loved ones in tearful, joyful reunions. Passengers gawked as they took in the destruction left in the wake of Russia’s occupation. Here are some scenes from that day.

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A Ukrainian Railways train operator in Mykolaiv, Ukraine, prepares the train for the first trip to recently liberated Kherson on Saturday.

Pete Kiehart for NPR

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Pete Kiehart for NPR

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People greet each other on the platform as a train bound for Kherson makes a stop in Mykolaiv on Saturday.

Pete Kiehart for NPR

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Pete Kiehart for NPR

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Ukrainian Railways staff prepare for departure from Mykolaiv on the train headed to Kherson. The train was fitted with improvised armor and pushed empty cars ahead of it as precautionary measures.

Pete Kiehart for NPR

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Pete Kiehart for NPR

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Passengers ride the first Ukrainian Railways train to recently liberated Kherson on Saturday.

Pete Kiehart for NPR

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Pete Kiehart for NPR

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Ukrainian Railways employee Halyna Rospodnyuk eats a breakfast of traditional Ukrainian salo (cured pork fat) sandwiches on the train.

Pete Kiehart for NPR

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Pete Kiehart for NPR

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Passengers film ammunition boxes and other evidence of war from the train.

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