The Russian army has claimed it has taken control of the strategically important city of Kherson in southern Ukraine.
According to the defence ministry spokesman, Igor Konashenkov the Russian divisions of the armed forces took the regional centre of Kherson under full control.
He explained that public services and transport were operating as usual.
Reacting, Kherson’s Mayor Igor Nikolayev, however, said in a post on Facebook: “We are still Ukraine. Still firm.”
Apparently, contradicting the Russian army’s claims, he said he needed to find a way to “collect the remains of the dead” and “restore electricity, gas, water and heating where they are damaged”.
He added Russian forces were now trying to take control of Mariupol, a key southeastern port city.
The UK’s Defence Ministry said it had seen an increase in Russian air and artillery attacks on populated urban areas over the past two days. It also said Kharkiv and Mariupol were encircled by Russian forces and that troops had reportedly moved into the centre of Kherson.
Russian President Vladimir Putin last Thursday ordered troops to invade pro-Western Ukraine to “de-militarise” and “denazify” the country. Putin recognised the breakaway regions days before he launched the full-scale invasion.
All in all, the Russian military damaged more than 1,500 military facilities in Ukraine, Konashenkov, the defence ministry spokesman, said on Wednesday, adding that 58 planes, 46 drones and 472 tanks and other armoured vehicles had been destroyed.
Meanwhile, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Wednesday accused Russia of seeking to “erase” Ukrainians, their country and their history.
More than 650,000 people have fled Ukraine to neighbouring EU member states since Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine, the European Commission said on Wednesday.