Russian forces have captured the Ukrainian city of Kherson, local officials confirmed, the first major urban center to collapse since Moscow invaded a week ago.
“The (Russian) occupiers are in all parts of the city and are very dangerous,” Gennady Lakhuta, head of the regional government, wrote on Telegram on Wednesday.
Kherson City, Ukraine
The mayor of the port city of 290,000, Igor Kolykhaiev, announced talks with “armed guests” in the Kherson city government.
“We had no weapons and were not aggressive. We have shown that we are working to secure the city and try to deal with the consequences of the invasion,” he wrote in a Facebook post.
“We have huge problems with the collection and burial of the dead, the delivery of food and medicine, the collection of waste, the management of accidents, etc,” he continued.
Kolykhaiev said he made “no promises” to the invading forces but asked them “not to shoot at people”, while also announcing a curfew in the city and a restriction on car traffic.
“So far good. The flag flying above us is Ukrainian. And to keep it that way, these requirements must be met,” he added.
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Black Sea city under siege
The Russian military announced Wednesday morning the seizure of Kherson, not far from the Crimean peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.
The Black Sea city was besieged when Russian troops penetrated with their offensives on other urban centers.
Another important Ukrainian port, Berdiansk, has already been taken by Russian troops, while Mariupol has repulsed attacks “with dignity”, said the city’s mayor, Vadym Boychenko.
“Today was the hardest and most brutal day of the Seven Day War. Today they just wanted to destroy us all,” he said in a video to Telegram, in which he accused Russian troops of shooting at residential buildings.
Boychenko said infrastructure was damaged by the attack, leaving people without light, water or heating.
Russian forces have also bombed Ukraine’s second-largest city, Kharkiv, in an attack that has drawn comparisons to the massacres of civilians in Sarajevo in the 1990s.
Hundreds of civilians have been killed after days of fierce fighting, while about a million have fled Ukraine since the invasion began, leading to punitive Western sanctions designed to cripple Russia’s economy.
© Agence France Presse
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