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KYIV/KHARKIV, (Ukraine): Ukrainians said on Wednesday they were battling on in the port of Kherson, the first sizeable city Russia claimed to have seized, while air strikes and bombardment caused further devastation in other cities, especially Kharkiv in the east.

Russia’s week-old invasion has yet to achieve its aim of overthrowing Ukraine’s government but has sent more than 870,000 people fleeing to neighbouring countries and jolted the global economy as governments and companies line up to isolate Moscow.

“The Russian ‘liberators’ have come,” one Ukrainian volunteer lamented sarcastically, as he and three others strained to carry the dead body of a man wrapped in a bedsheet out of the ruins on a main square.

At least 25 people have been killed by shelling and air strikes in Kharkiv in the past 24 hours, authorities said. After an air strike on Wednesday, the roof of a police building in central Kharkiv collapsed in flames.

‘THEY JUST WANT TO DESTROY’

Pavel Dorogoy, 36, a photographer who lives near the city centre, said Russian forces had also targeted the city council building, which was empty at the time, a telephone exchange and a television tower on the edge of Kharkiv.

“Most people hid in the basements for most of the day today and last night … The Russians cannot enter the town so they’re just attacking us from afar, they just want to destroy what they can,” he said.

Moscow denies targeting civilians and says it aims to disarm Ukraine, a country of 44 million people, in a “special military operation”.

Russia said it would hold a second round of peace talks with Ukraine on Thursday on the border with Belarus, Russian news agencies reported, after a first round made scant progress on Monday. There was no immediate word from Kyiv on the reports.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Tuesday Russia must stop bombing if it wanted to negotiate.

In Washington’s assessment, a US official said, there has been no significant change on the ground in Ukraine since Tuesday despite the launch of more than 450 Russian missiles against Ukrainian targets.

Russia said it had captured Kherson, a southern provincial capital of around 250,000 people strategically placed where the Dnipro River flows into the Black Sea.

Zelenskiy adviser Oleksiy Arestovych denied

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