The 3 key cities Ukraine needs to defend in order to stave off Russias invasion

Ukrainian MPs sing in parliament in defiance of Russia

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War has now been raging in Ukraine for more than a week, with both Moscow and Kyiv claiming to have inflicted heavy casualties on each other. After invading from different points along Ukraine’s border, Russia has so far struggled to make significant gains, taking only the port city of Kherson. Now explores the three cities in Ukraine key to staving off Russia’s invasion.


Mariupol, a city of around 450,000 people, is Ukraine’s major trading port, which connects it to the Sea of Azov.

The city is a key strategic target for Russia because seizing it would allow Russian-backed separatist forces, in eastern Ukraine, to join up with troops in Crimea.

Russia originally annexed the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and used it as one of several springboards to launch last week’s invasion from.

On Wednesday, Russian forces bombed large areas of Mariupol continuously for more than 15 hours.

The aerial shelling has raised fears Moscow is changing its plan of attack after initially struggling to overwhelm Ukraine’s military units.

Local authorities in the city have said that Russians are halting the supplies of electricity, water and heat, and also destroying bridges and rail links.


Located in the northeast of Ukraine, Kharkiv has been the subject of Russian airstrikes for several days.

On Tuesday Russian missiles and rockets targeted a number of buildings in the city’s Freedom Square, prompting Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky to condemn the attacks as amounting to state terrorism.

Kharkiv is Ukraine’s second-biggest city and home to an estimated 1.4 million people.

The city is also located very close to the Russian border and were it to be taken, could eventually allow Moscow to link its forces in the two self-proclaimed republics of Donetsk and Luhansk.

In 2014, the city became the focus of a failed Russian-orchestrated effort to rally opposition to the new Ukrainian Government and restore ex-president Viktor F. Yanukovych.

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In the Kremlin’s version of history, Kharkiv is portrayed as the place that demonstrates the folly of Ukraine trying to live apart from Russia.

Were it to fall, Russian President Vladimir Putin would likely view it as a heavy blow both to the ongoing war efforts and the psychological strength of Ukraine’s Government.


As the capital of Ukraine, Kyiv holds diplomatic significance around the world.

From the moment the Kremlin ordered troops into Ukraine, the capital has been a key target and hit with relentless attacks.

An estimated 40-mile-long convoy of Russian armour has been slowly making its way to Kyiv, despite encountering supply issues of fuel and food.

Strategically, the city is located on the Dnieper River, which effectively dissects Ukraine in half.

Assuming control of Kyiv for Russia would likely involve the capture or dismissal of Ukraine’s Government and represent a watershed moment in the war.

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