RUSSIA has demanded Ukraine give up three key regions to end the war, despite Ukrainian forces recapturing a key city from the Russians and driven Putin’s forces from the city, Kyiv has claimed.
A Kremlin spokesman called for Ukraine to cease military action, change its constitution to become a neutral country, acknowledge Crimea as Russian territory and recognise the separatist republics of Luhansk and Donetsk.
Dmitry Peskov told Reuters that Russia had told Ukraine it was ready to halt its military action “in a moment” if Kyiv met its conditions.
And he insisted Russia wasn’t seeking any further territorial claims in Ukraine.
“We really are finishing the demilitarisation of Ukraine,” he said. “We will finish it. But the main thing is that Ukraine ceases its military action.
“They should stop their military action and then no one will shoot. They should make amendments to their constitution according to which Ukraine would reject any aims to enter any bloc.
Last month, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy dismissed Russia’s territorial claims in an address to his people ahead of the invasion on February 24.
“Both Donbas and Crimea will return to Ukraine,” he said. “Exclusively through diplomacy. We do not encroach on what’s not ours, but we will not give up our land.”
Russia’s demands come despite Putin’s army losing a key city to Ukraine.
The northeastern city of Chuhuiv was retaken on Sunday after Ukraine’s military inflicted heavy losses on Russia’s army, defence officials claimed.
Lieutenant General Serhiy Shaptala said his troops had seized Chuhuiv from Russian control, killing large numbers of Putin’s men.
Two high-ranking Russian commanders were reportedly killed in the battle.
“In the course of hostilities, the city of Chuhuiv was liberated,” the General Staff said on Facebook.
“Lieutenant Colonel Dmitry Safronov, Commander of the 61st Separate Marine Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, and Lieutenant Colonel Denis Glebov, Deputy Commander of the 11th Separate Airborne Assault Brigade of the Russian Armed Forces, were killed,” it went on.
Chuhuiv, a small city of 30,000 people 22 miles southeast of Ukraine’s second city Kharkiv, was one of the first taken by the Russians.
A week ago, a young boy was killed in the city after heavy shelling struck an apartment block.
The image of a woman with a heavily-bandaged and bleeding face following the shelling in Chuhuiv became one of the defining images of the conflict so far.
It added that 801 injuries have been reported as well, although the true figure could be far higher.
Kyiv and Kharkiv came under fresh bombardment overnight as murderous Vladimir Putin hammered residential homes ahead of a feared second-wave offensive.
Missiles rained down after a day of true horror, which saw Russian troops fire on a nuclear reactor site and a mum and her two children killed as they desperately tried to flee during a ceasefire.
Air raid sirens rang out in the capital Kyiv in the early hours, while social media videos showed a number of explosions in second city Kharkiv.
One terrifying video, believed to have been filmed in Kharkiv, shows the moment a high-rise block of flats was blasted in a huge orange flash.
Another clip records the constant rumble of bombing in the distance.
And a third was claimed to show a Russian attack jet going down in flames.
Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovich said other areas under bombardment overnight included the outskirts of Kyiv, Chernihiv in the north, and Mykolaiv in the south
“We have withstood the first, heaviest wave of attacks by Russian orcs.
“But the enemy is still dangerous as ready and united as possible.”
Thousands of people are trapped in besieged Kharkiv, which has seen some of the heaviest bombings of the invasion so far.
Throughout the city, snowy streets are paved with glass blown from windows and debris torn from smashed buildings by missiles.
Earlier yesterday, Russian forces were accused of firing at a facility with a nuclear reactor, sparking fears of a major radiation leak.
Mad Vlad’s army are said to have fired unguided rockets at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology.
Early this morning Russia’s Ministry of Defence claimed without evidence that Ukraine’s spy agency had mined the institute with explosives.
It added Ukraine was planning a dangerous “provocation” and hoped to blame Russia for an explosion causing “an ecological catastrophe”.
Meanwhile, officials in Kyiv warned Russia had now amassed a big enough force to try to seize the capital.
And around 30 Tochka-U tactical missile systems have been brought to Belarus from Russia ready for a feared all-out assault.
Russia has fired 600 missiles and deployed 95 per cent of the servicemen who had gathered on the border ahead of the conflict, CNN reports.
Tens of thousands remain trapped in the besieged port city of Mariupol after a “ceasefire” to allow a humanitarian escape route was breached for the second day running.
Desperate residents were struggling for a fifth day with no water or power after an evacuation was halted by Russian shelling.
Vadym Boychenko, mayor of the Black Sea port, said: “They’re destroying us.”
In Irpin, near Kyiv, at least eight people were killed as merciless troops fired on families fleeing the frontline.
A mother and her two children – one of whom was an eight-year-old girl – died as they attempted to cross the river. Only the father and the family dog survived.
And the train station in Kyiv was packed with people desperate to escape as explosions rocked the city.