Occupied Ukrainian city Kherson a 'Russian city' - pro-Russia official

According to the US State Department, prior to the war only about 20% of Kherson residents viewed Russia positively.

 A Russian flag flies on the bank of the Black Sea during celebrations for the first anniversary of the Crimean treaty signing in Sevastopol, March 18, 2015. (photo credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS)
A Russian flag flies on the bank of the Black Sea during celebrations for the first anniversary of the Crimean treaty signing in Sevastopol, March 18, 2015.
(photo credit: MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS)

The occupied Ukrainian port city Kherson was characterized as a "full-fledged Russian city" by deputy head of the military-civilian administration of the Kherson region Kirill Stremousov on Sunday, according to Russian state media outlet RIA.

Kherson celebrates Russia Day

Stremousov's statements came after the celebration of Russia Day on Sunday, which he told RIA occurred in Kherson without any issues, and proved the city's disposition toward Russia. 

According to the US State Department, prior to the war only about 20% of Kherson residents viewed Russia positively, and the invading power has likely lost legitimacy and local support since the war began.

“Many people are grateful for what we have done, that the city has not been destroyed, that we have preserved it. Now we will only create,” Stremousov told RIA.

On Thursday, Stremousov told RIA that Kherson's shipyards would in the future build warships for the Russian Black Sea Fleet.

Tanks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces drive during military drills at a training ground near the border with Russian-annexed Crimea in Kherson region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine press service November 17, 2021. (credit: PRESS SERVICE OF GENERAL STAFF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF UKRAINE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)Tanks of the Ukrainian Armed Forces drive during military drills at a training ground near the border with Russian-annexed Crimea in Kherson region, Ukraine, in this handout picture released by the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine press service November 17, 2021. (credit: PRESS SERVICE OF GENERAL STAFF OF THE ARMED FORCES OF UKRAINE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

There was reportedly a festival with a concert with Russian performers in Kherson during Russia Day.

Russia Day is a Russian state holiday celebrating the sovereignty of the country. 

Russian control of Kherson

Russia has made moves to consolidate permanent control of the strategic Ukrainian port city since it conquered it on March 2.

US State Department spokesman Ned Price warned on May 31 that Russia may be considering annexing Ukraine's Kherson region like it did Crimea, or it may turn it into an independent pro-Russia polity like Donetsk and Luhansk.

"The Kremlin is probably weighing a few approaches: From recognizing a so-called 'people’s republic' as Russia forcibly did in Donetsk and Luhansk, to an attempted annexation just as Russia did in Crimea," said Price in a press briefing.

The Kremlin indicated it could attempt a sham referendum even though it lacks any popular or legal legitimacy to do so, according to Price. He warned that Russian proxy officials like Stremousov had publicly stated an intent to appeal to Russia to incorporate the Kherson region by the end of the year.

Price also said the department was alarmed by Russian President Vladimir Putin signing a decree that streamlined the process for residents of the Russian-occupied Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions to acquire Russian citizenship and passports. The program was an extension of a 2019 decree that gave the same benefits to Russian-backed separatists in Ukraine's Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

The US also noted that Russia may be tightening its grip on communications in Kherson as another means of control

"As of late April, Russia likely controlled at least 25 broadcasting towers in Ukrainian areas under Russian military control, including in the Kherson region, and was airing pro‑Russia media channels probably to weaken anti-Russian sentiment and public resistance," said Price.

In May Russian officials had been increasing their visits to the region — Most notably including one visit by a Russian deputy prime minister.

"[A Russian deputy prime minister] publicly stated that Moscow believed Kherson has 'a decent place in our Russian family.' This followed a trip by the head of Russia’s ruling party, United Russia, who said Russia would remain in Kherson 'forever,' said Price.