Russian troops have entered this morning, on the eighth day of the military offensive, in the strategic city of Kherson (some 290,000 inhabitants), in the south of the country, with a port on the Black Sea. The mayor of the municipality, Igor Kolykhayev, assured in a statement that the Russian troops had entered the local government headquarters and were deployed in the streets, and called on citizens to only leave their homes during the day, one by one or two by two. “There are armed visitors at the City Hall headquarters,” Kolykhayev said. “I have not made any promises to them, I have only asked them not to shoot anyone,” he added. This Thursday morning, the information about whether Russia has taken full control of the port city is contradictory.
The Russian Defense Ministry has assured that its troops have taken control of the city, reports Reuters, while the Ukrainian president, Volodímir Zelenski, has explained in a video that his forces are still fighting in the city. “We have broken the enemy’s plans in a week.” Some plans, Zelensky has said, that the Kremlin has taken “years to design”. “They are petty, they hate our country and our people”, he has protested.
The conquest of Kherson would make it easier for the Kremlin to attack Odessa, the other great city on the Black Sea, with 993,000 inhabitants and, therefore, control of Ukraine’s access to the sea. He would do it in waters where three other countries have coastlines: Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria. It also opens the way for Russian forces to Mykolaiv, a large city of half a million people that is already under attack.
The Russian forces have not been able to continue advancing towards Kiev, but in the early hours of this Thursday, around one in the morning, four loud explosions have been heard in the center, while hours before another strong detonation damaged a pipe that could leave no heat apart from the city. The Russian invasion has already caused the death of 2,000 civilians, according to the Ukrainian emergency services, in the largest attack on a European state since 1945. In the last 24 hours, 34 people have lost their lives in the city of Kharkov as a result of the harsh attacks, as reported by these same sources on Thursday. The UN put the fatalities on Wednesday at 227, although it warned that the numbers could be “underestimated.”
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Another of Putin’s strategic objectives is the large southern town of Mariupol, with 446,000 inhabitants, already almost completely surrounded. This Thursday the local authorities have confirmed that the water and electricity supplies have been depleted. Russia has bombed the city’s electrical substations, cutting off supplies to facilitate the siege. It is a city with a strategic naval industry, northwest of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, which Russia illegally annexed in 2014 and which the Kremlin has used as a launch pad in the invasion. The Russian Army, which had been attacking the town for several days, entered the city on Tuesday and continues with the siege. Mariupol is a prized piece for Putin. Taking it would allow it to facilitate the construction of a long-awaited corridor linking Crimea and Donbas.
Since the United States published the images of a huge russian convoy from more than 12 kilometers to 60 kilometers from Kiev, the fall of the capital was expected to be imminent. British military intelligence has assured this Thursday that progress is slow, “little progress”, towards Kiev. This situation is repeated, according to the same sources, in the cities of Kharkov, Mariupol and Chernígov, which British intelligence considers to be still under Ukrainian control.
“The large Russian column heading for Kiev is still 30 kilometers from the city center and has been delayed by strong Ukrainian resistance, mechanical problems and congestion,” says British Defense. This means that the convoy has barely made any progress in the last three days. “Although the Russian bombardment of Kharkov, Mariupol and Chernigov has been very heavy, the cities are still under Ukrainian rule and despite the fact that Russian troops have entered Kherson, the military situation is still unclear.”
The United States has called on Russia to “immediately” stop the “bloodshed” and withdraw troops from Ukraine. In addition, he has accused Moscow of launching an “all-out war on press freedom and truth” by blocking independent media outlets and social media to prevent Russians from hearing news of the Ukraine invasion.
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