Huge 40-mile long convoy advances on Kyiv as Ukrainian official says 70 soldiers killed in airstrike

ITV News Reporter Chloe Keedy has the latest on the developing crisis as the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its sixth day

A huge military convoy, stretching for 40 miles, has been pictured heading towards Kyiv as the Russian invasion of Ukraine enters its sixth day after a night of shelling in cities across the country.

Russian forces are currently around 17 miles outside of the capital which they have their sights set on capturing in an apparent bid to overthrow the government.

There are fears the military equipment such as tanks seen in the convoy could be used to step up the bombardment of the capital, resulting in greater loss of life.

A blast appearing to target a historic government administration building in the heart of Kyiv sends a message that the Russian side isn't backing down, reports ITV News Rohit Kachroo from the Ukrainian capital

It comes as a regional official reported 70 Ukrainian soldiers were killed on Sunday after Russian artillery hit a military base in Okhtyrka, a city between Kharkiv and Kyiv.

Dmytro Zhyvytskyy also posted photographs of the charred shell of a four-story building and rescuers searching rubble on Telegram. In a later Facebook post, he some local residents and many Russian soldiers were killed during the fighting on Sunday. The report could not immediately be confirmed.

In Ukraine's second-largest city, Kharkiv, a regional government building has been struck by a missile attack, according to the country's Ministry of Culture and Information Policy.

Ukraine's foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba shared footage of the attack, describing it as "barbaric Russian missile strikes on the central Freedom Square and residential districts of Kharkiv".

"Putin is unable to break Ukraine down. He commits more war crimes out of fury, murders innocent civilians. The world can and must do more," he tweeted.

In Russia, the country's economic isolation worsened after the world's biggest shipping company Maersk said it would stop deliveries to its ports, as Mastercard and Visa blocked multiple financial institutions from their network.

Overnight, Kharkiv, saw increased shelling with footage showing apartment buildings shaken by repeated, powerful blasts.

Videos showing the aftermath of the shelling in Kharkiv on Monday

The Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko said Kharkiv had been "massively fired on", with officials reporting that at least 44 people have been wounded in fighting and that seven of them died in hospitals.

The state emergencies agency said the casualties could be higher because the damage from Monday’s shelling of residential areas is still being assessed.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said he will open an investigation soon into possible war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine.

'Everyone from teenagers to old men' battling to defend Kharkiv, ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers reported on Monday's News At Ten

Ukraine's UN representative said that 352 people, including 16 children, had been killed as of Monday in the fighting.

Sergiy Kyslytsya accused Moscow troops of attacking hospitals and ambulances in a determination to “kill civilians”, adding: “There is no debate. These are war crimes.”

The UK's ambassador Dame Barbara Woodward said Ukraine is on the brink of a “humanitarian catastrophe” and that seven million people had been displaced already, with the figure “rising exponentially”.

Despite a five-hour session of talks between Ukraine and Russia yielding no stop in the fighting on Monday, both sides agreed to another meeting in coming days.

Refugees fleeing war in Ukraine arrive at the Medyka border crossing in Poland Credit: AP

Ukraine's embattled president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, however, said in a video address he believed the stepped-up shelling was designed to pressure him into bowing to President Vladimir Putin's demands.

He did not offer details of the talks that took place, but said Kyiv was not prepared to make concessions “when one side is hitting another with rocket artillery".

Mr Zelenskyy said Kyiv remains a "key goal” for the Russians, noting that it was hit by three missile strikes on Monday and that hundreds of saboteurs were roaming the city.

“They want to break our nationhood, that’s why the capital is constantly under threat,” Mr Zelenskyy said.

Children with cancer hold up messages reading 'Stop War' in a makeshift bomb shelter at Okhmadet children's hospital, Kyiv Credit: AP

However, Russia's advance to the capital has made little progress over the past 24 hours likely due to "continuing logistical difficulties," according to the Ministry of Defence (MoD).

“Russia has failed to gain control of the airspace over Ukraine prompting a shift to night operations in an attempt to reduce their losses," it said in an update, warning its use of heavy artillery in densely populated urban areas "greatly increases the risk of civilian casualties".

Mr Zelenskyy also branded the attack overnight on Kharkiv a "war crime".

“Kharkiv is a peaceful city, there are peaceful residential areas, no military facilities. Dozens of eyewitness accounts prove that this is not a single false volley, but deliberate destruction of people: the Russians knew where they were shooting," Mr Zelenskyy said.

“No one in the world will forgive you for killing peaceful Ukrainian people."

Footage shared on social media shows the devastating aftermath of a rocket strike in Kharkiv.

Fighting has also raged in other towns and cities. The strategic port city of Mariupol, on the Sea of Azov, is “hanging on,” said Mr Zelenskyy advisor's, Oleksiy Arestovich. An oil depot was reported bombed in the eastern city of Sumy.

In the seaside resort town of Berdyansk, dozens of protesters chanted angrily in the main square against Russian occupiers, yelling at them to go home and singing the Ukrainian national anthem. They described the soldiers as exhausted young conscripts. “Frightened kids, frightened looks. They want to eat,” said Konstantin Maloletka, who runs a small shop. He said the soldiers went into a supermarket and grabbed canned meat, vodka and cigarettes. "They ate right in the store,” he said. “It looked like they haven’t been fed in recent days.”

Listen to the ITV News podcast What You Need To Know, for the latest expert analysis on Ukraine

Prime Minister Boris Johnson arrived in Warsaw on Tuesday morning to meet his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki, to discuss the UK’s financial and diplomatic support for central Europe as it faces the prospect of a humanitarian crisis.

Following the meeting, Mr Johnson is to fly to Estonia, where he will meet with leaders in Tallinn, Estonia, before visiting serving British troops alongside NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

The visit comes as he pushes for Western unity in punishing the Russian president for starting a conflict that has taken “hundreds” of lives in only five days and urged allies to “speak with one voice” to ensure “Putin must fail”.

Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab warned on Tuesday morning that Vladimir Putin could respond to resistance in Ukraine with “even more barbaric tactics” and did not rule out supplying Ukraine with fighter jets to defend itself.

A man carries a baby as people struggle to get to a train platform in Kyiv to flee the city

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We can expect, for every stutter and stumble, him to try and come back for even more heavy-handed tactics, but that is a sign that the initial phase at least – and this is going to be a long haul – has not lived up to his expectations.”

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is also embarking on a diplomatic mission as she prepares to address the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva.

“Putin is violating international law… he is violating human rights on an industrial scale and the world will not stand for it,” Ms Truss is expected to say in a speech urging the West to “isolate” Russia as a result of the war it has instigated.

The comments are due to be made only 24 hours after Moscow suggested it had put the Russian nuclear deterrent on high alert in response to unspecified comments made by Ms Truss.

However, a senior US defence official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they had yet to see any appreciable change in Russia’s nuclear posture.

The ministerial trips come after the UK government looked to “up the pressure” on the Kremlin on Monday, with fresh sanctions on Russian banks and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urging all UK ports to deny access to Russian flagged, registered or operated vessels.

As far-reaching Western sanctions on Russian banks and other institutions took hold, the Russian ruble plummeted, and Russia’s Central Bank scrambled to shore it up, as did Putin, signing a decree restricting foreign currency. But that did little to calm Russian fears. In Moscow, people lined up to withdraw cash as the sanctions threatened to drive up prices and reduce the standard of living for millions of ordinary Russians. In yet another blow to Russia's economy, oil giant Shell said it was pulling out of the country because of the invasion. It announced it will withdraw from its joint ventures with state-owned gas company Gazprom and other entities and end its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project between Russia and Europe.

The economic sanctions, ordered by the US and other allies, were just one contributor to Russia's growing status as a pariah country. Russian airliners are banned from European airspace, Russian media is restricted in some countries, and some high-tech products can no longer be exported to the country. On Monday, in a major blow to a football-mad nation, Russian teams were suspended from all international games.