Kherson: where is Ukraine city on map, how far is it from Kharkiv and Kyiv, has Russia captured it - and why?

Russia president Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has continued with military vehicles entering the Ukrainian port city of Kherson overnight

Russian forces have claimed to take full control of Kherson as the Ukrainian Government said overnight that troops were moving toward the city.

There has been no confirmation as of yet but capturing this southern city of Ukraine where almost 300,000 people reside would be a major victory for the Russian military.

It would be the biggest city to fall into Russian hands.

Here’s where the port city is in Ukraine, why it would be important to Russia and if Russian forces have captured it.

Where is Kherson?

Kherson is a city in southern Ukraine that lies on the right west bank of the lower Dnieper River.

The city became the first Russian naval base and shipyard on the Black Sea, and was named a provincial capital in 1803.

It is a major sea harbour town in Southern Ukraine.

Kherson is around 280 miles from the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv.

While it is around 342 miles from the city of Kharkiv. Shelling in Kharkiv has killed at least 25 people and injured at least 121 as Russian paratroopers attacked the city overnight.

Have Russian forces captured Kherson?

Russian vehicles entered Kherson’s city centre overnight on Wednesday (2 March) with forces claiming to have captured the city.

Moscow said it was now in "full control" of the city.

“The Russian divisions of the armed forces have taken the regional centre of Kherson under full control,” the Russian defence ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov said in televised remarks on Wednesday.

He claimed that public services and transport were operating as usual.

“The city is not experiencing shortages of food and essential goods,” he said.

He added that talks were under way between the Russian army and local authorities on maintaining order, protecting the population and keeping public services functioning.

But Kherson’s Mayor, Igor Nikolayev, has contradicted the claims, posting on Facebook: "We are still Ukraine. Still firm."

He said he needed to find a way to “collect the [bodies of the] dead” and “restore electricity, gas, water and heating where they are damaged”.

“But I warn you right away: To complete these tasks today means to perform a miracle,” he added.

We will bring you more updates as they come.

Why would capturing Kherson be important?

Kherson is itself an important Black Sea port and an industrial centre. It is the biggest river port of the country.

Strategically it would be a vital military base as it seeks to push further inland and west along the coast to another big port city on the Black Sea called Odesa.

Controlling Kherson means controlling a major water source too.

After Russia seized the Crimean peninsula, Ukraine dammed the North Crimean canal so most of the fresh water supply into Crimea was cut off.

This caused water shortages in the annexed region.

One of the first targets of Russia’s military invasion was unblocking that waterway and restoring water supplies to Crimea.

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