The first major city in Ukraine has fallen, with Russian taking control of the Kherson, the city's mayor confirmed on Wednesday night urging residents in Facebook post to "obey orders" of Vladimir Putin's men. On Wednesday, Russian army took control over Kherson after intense fighting that saw them finally forcing their way into the council building and claiming victory.
This comes after conflicting reports on Wednesday wherein Russia claimed to have taken control over the port city, while authorities in Kherson claimed that they were still defending the city form a brutal Russian attack. Videos on social media show Russian tanks rolling on the deserted streets of Kherson on Wednesday evening.
First City Falls
Kherson's mayor Igor Kolykhaev on Wednesday night took to Facebook to urge the residents to obey "armed people who came to the city's administration" after Russian forces took control of the city. Russian forces announced victory on the port city after an intense fight that saw them finally storming into the city's council building.
Kherson, which has a population of 290,000 people, is located 300 kilometres south of Kyiv. In the early hours of Thursday, Kyiv was also attacked, with a brilliant explosion resounding throughout the city about 2 a.m.
The confirmation from Kolykhaev comes after a day of conflicting claims over whether Moscow had made the first major gain of a city in its eight-day-long invasion. However, Russia has been claiming since Wednesday morning that its forces have seized Kherson.
After Vladimir Putin's warships were seen departing Crimea on Wednesday night, the port city of Odessa, 125 miles west of Kherson, was also bracing for an attack. Officials from the United States warned Fox News that an attack on Odessa may happen as soon as Thursday.
Video footage on social media shows devastating scenes on the streets of Kherson. Russian tanks could be seen moving on the streets. Dead bodies of soldiers remained scattered with no one to pick them up.
Russia's Brutal Assault
Video footage also shows fierce fighting in Kherson on Wednesday. Although the incursion has yet to overturn Kyiv's administration, hundreds are said to have killed or been injured, and more than 8,70,000 people have fled the country.
In the early hours of Thursday, Ukraine's president, Volodymyr Zelensky, gave a video message to the nation, offering an enthusiastic appraisal of the war and urging Ukrainians to keep fighting. "We are a people who in a week have destroyed the plans of the enemy," he said, in the clip posted on social media.
"They will have no peace here. They will have no food. They will have here not one quiet moment."
However, Zelensky didn't say whether the Russians had taken control of various cities, including Kherson. "If they went somewhere, then only temporarily. We'll drive them out," he said.
Meanwhile, Kherson's mayor called on civilians to walk through the streets only in daylight and in ones and twos.
Russia refers to its actions in Ukraine as a "special operation" that aims to undermine Ukraine's military capability and apprehend what it considers to be dangerous nationalists. It denies that civilians are being targeted.
In other events, a blast in Kharkiv, a 1.5 million-person metropolis, has left the city's center a shambles of wrecked buildings and debris.
According to Ukraine's parliament, Russians shelled the city of Izyum, 120 kilometres south of Kharkiv, killing six adults and two children.