Russian forces capture Ukrainian city of Kherson

This Maxar satellite image taken and released on February 26, 2022, shows an overview of Russian ground forces as they approach Nova Kakhovka, Ukraine. – The United Nations told Ukraine that it will work to increase humanitarian assistance in the wake of the Russian invasion. (Photo by Satellite image ©2022 Maxar Technologies / AFP)

KYIV, Ukraine (AFP) – Russian forces have taken the Ukrainian city of Kherson, local officials confirmed, the first major urban centre to fall since Moscow invaded one week ago.

“The (Russian) occupiers are in all parts of the city and are very dangerous,” Gennady Lakhuta, head of the regional administration, wrote on messaging service Telegram late Wednesday.

FILE – Pro-Russian supporters look at pro-Russian forces standing guard at a checkpoint in Chongar, in the border area between Crimea and the Kherson region of Ukraine, on March 14, 2014. Russia and the West have “no common vision” on Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said today after talks aimed at defusing the crisis. AFP PHOTO / VASILY MAXIMOV (Photo by VASILY MAXIMOV / AFP)

The strategic port city of 290,000 people near the Black Sea came under siege as Russian forces pressed ahead with their offensive across other urban centres.

Another key Ukrainian port, Berdiansk, has already been seized by Russian troops, while Mariupol has repelled attacks “with dignity,” according to that city’s mayor, Vadim Boichenko.

Russian forces have also bombarded Ukraine’s second-biggest city Kharkiv, prompting comparisons to the massacres of civilians in Sarajevo in the 1990s.

After days of intense fighting, hundreds of civilians have been killed, while around one million people have fled Ukraine since the invasion began, triggering punishing Western sanctions intended to cripple Russia’s economy.