YESTERDAY morning, one week after the start of their operation, Russian forces captured the main city in southern Ukraine, Kherson.
Kherson is not far from the Crimean peninsula, which was annexed by Moscow in 2014 after the local population voted for it.
Russian forces then pushed further eastwards and surrounded the main Ukrainian port of Mariupol on the Sea of Azov.
If the Russian military takes control, they will be able to ensure regional continuity between its forces from the Crimea and its forces from the Donbass Region further to the northeast.
Strategically this is essential to defend the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Lugansk.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said yesterday: ‘Even if you did not know all the background of this Donbass story, if you did not see the pictures, if you did not speak to people from there, the current behaviour of the regime does not leave any doubt that it is gangsters who are running the show.
‘Gangsters that are being supplied with weapons, gangsters who are using people as human shields, and they hide in residential blocks.
‘They are doing everything in order to form a certain picture and pass it as reality.
‘They are using the lives of their citizens as tools in this process. They are using the civilian population and also foreign nationals that are in the territory of the Ukraine.
‘We can see gangsters that are using western weapons who are not regular forces. They joined the Ukrainian forces and they received the status of Ukrainian forces and they have essentially become detachments of military formations.
‘We have been told by Washington that these forces are “bringing freedom to the world”. Now we can see how they bring this “freedom”.
‘They do this on the basis of nationalistic principles, on the basis of hiding behind women and children and you are doing this with the cover of the secret services of the UK and the US.
‘They are using you, but we have no pity for you. I am talking about Ukrainian gangsters and illegitimate forces.’