The Ukrainian government has confirmed that the port of Berdyansk has fallen to Russian forces. The nearby port of Mariupol remains under siege.

The mayor of Berdyansk, Oleksandr Svidlo. said that the occupiers had asked him and his administration to continue in their posts, but they refused.

“Some time ago, armed soldiers entered the executive committee building and introduced themselves as soldiers of the Russian army.” Svidlo said in a Facebook post. “They informed us that all administrative buildings were under their control and that they were taking control of the executive committee building. Under the control of armed men, I consider this proposal unacceptable. So we, as all members of the operational headquarters, left the building.”

Berdyansk is a small port city of about 100,000 people. It is a hub for exports of coal, grain, sunflower-seed oil, iron and other commodities. As a port on the Sea of Azov, it is restricted by the navigable dimensions of the Kerch Strait This limits draft to eight meters, air draft to 33 meters and length to 215 meters.

Two merchant ships captured

Two Ukrainian merchant ships appear to have been seized by Russian forces over the weekend, according to the Ukrainian State Border Guard Service.

AIS data shows that the bulkers Princess Nicole and Afina – both Ukrainian-flagged – have diverted to the Russian-controlled port of Sebastopol.

Their AIS tracks became erratic, then ceased transmission at about 0200 hours GMT on Saturday. This is all according to tracking provided by Pole Star. When transmissions resumed at 1200 hours on Sunday, they were stationary in Russian-controlled waters off the coast of Sebastopol. As of Sunday evening, Princess Nicole was broadcasting “not under command.”

The Ukrainian State Border Guard Service confirmed the seizure of the two vessels on Sunday.

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