Banksy unveils Ukraine mural in town bombed by Russia

Banksy, the elusive British street artist, has painted a mural on a bombed-out building outside Ukraine's capital, in what Ukrainians have hailed as a symbol of their country's invincibility.

On Friday night the world-famous graffiti artist posted on Instagram three images of the artwork -- a gymnast performing a handstand amid the ruins of a demolished building in the town of Borodyanka northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.

The caption read "Borodyanka, Ukraine".

Together with towns such as Bucha and Irpin, Borodyanka was severely hit by Russia's bombardments and became a symbol of the devastation wrought by Moscow's offensive since February.

The town was briefly occupied by Russian forces before they withdrew in April.

"It is a symbol that we are unbreakable," 32-year-old Oleksiy Savochka told AFP on Saturday, referring to the graffiti.

"And our country is unbreakable."

A number of murals -- in the style of Banksy -- have appeared in and around Kyiv prompting Ukrainians to think that the anonymous street artist might be working in the war-ravaged country.

Another graffiti in Borodyanka -- its origin unconfirmed by the artist -- shows a little boy throwing a man wearing a judo uniform to the ground.

The scene could be a possible reference to Russian leader Vladimir Putin, who is a martial arts enthusiast.

"It is a small boy against an old man and he is defeated, he's already defeated," Bogdan Mashay, a 30-year-old Ukrainian TV journalist, told AFP near the artwork.

"It's unbelievable that Banksy is here in Borodyanka," he added.

On the side of a ruined building in Irpin, a third mural -- also unconfirmed by Banksy -- shows a gymnast performing a ribbon routine despite apparently being hurt and wearing a neck collar.

On Friday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky declared Kherson "ours" after Russia withdrew troops from the strategic southern city.

Kherson was the first major urban hub to fall after Putin ordered Russian troops into Ukraine on February 24.

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