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STORY: The port city of Kherson has become the latest flashpoint in Russia’s invasion of Ukraine as the crisis enters its second week.
Russia’s defense ministry said Wednesday they had captured the strategically located Black Sea port, making it the first major city to fall under their control.
But just hours later, an advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said their troops were continuing to defend the city.
Kherson’s mayor said late Wednesday Russian troops were patrolling the streets – and forced their way into the city council building.
“I am on the subway now and it is terrible how many kids are there.”
Meanwhile in Ukraine’s capital Kyiv, thousands of residents have continued sheltering in metro stations, away from Russian missile and rocket attacks.
Russia has so far failed to overthrow the Ukrainian government in Kyiv, and Western governments say a miles-long armored Russian convoy en route to the capital has stalled for days.
But thousands have been reported injured or dead – and nearly a million people have fled the country.
Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation" that is not designed to occupy territory but to destroy its neighbour's military capabilities and capture what it regards as dangerous nationalists.
As international sanctions on Russia continue to build and companies from Apple to Boeing pull out of the country, Western powers fear Moscow may resort to far more violent tactics out of frustration with the stalled invasion.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said Wednesday it would postpone a scheduled intercontinental ballistic missile test to de-escalate tensions -- after Russian leader Vladimir Putin announced it was putting its nuclear forces on high alert.
“We recognize at this moment of tension, how critical it is that both the United States and Russia bear in mind the risk of miscalculation and take steps to reduce those risks.”
Also on Wednesday, the U.S. accused Russia of launching a quote “full war on media freedom and the truth” by blocking news of the Ukraine invasion from independent news outlets and social media.
Diplomatic attempts at resolving the crisis have failed so far.
A Ukrainian presidential adviser told Reuters a delegation has left for a second round of talks with Russian officials on a potential ceasefire.