Evacuation corridors 'agreed' as Russia claims key Ukrainian city of Kherson

ITV News Europe Editor James Mates has the latest on the attack a week on from Russian forces invading

Corridors for the safe evacuation of Ukrainians trying to flee Russian bombardment have been agreed between the two states.

A member of Ukraine’s delegation, which attended talks with Russia near the Polish border on Thursday, said the parties have reached a tentative agreement to organise the routes and for humanitarian supplies to be delivered.

Whether this materialises as agreed or not remains to be seen, as on Thursday several cities were once again shelled by Russian forces, causing more civilian deaths. Negotiators say a third round of talks on the war will be held shortly.

What do corridors for safe evacuation mean - and will they be honoured? ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers explains

Mykhailo Podolyak, an adviser to Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, said that Russia and Ukraine reached a preliminary understanding that ceasefires will be observed in areas where the safe corridors are established.

Russian President Vladimir Putin at the same time said the Russian military has offered safe corridors. Speaking in a video call with members of his Security Council, he said Ukrainian nationalist groups have been using civilians as shields. Putin’s claim couldn’t be independently verified.

As Russian troops continue attacks, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy called for Putin to meet him, salting the proposal with sarcasm.

“Sit down with me to negotiate, just not at 30 metres," he said on Thursday, apparently referring to recent photos of Putin sitting at one end of an extremely long table when he met with French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I don’t bite. What are you afraid of?” Mr Zelenskyy said at a Thursday news conference.

He added it was sensible to have talks: “Any words are more important than shots.”

Where in Ukraine has Russia attacked?

Mr Zelensky spoke on the day Russia pressed its assaults on Ukraine's second-largest city and two strategic seaports, while the number of refugees who've fled the invasion topped one million.

Port city Kherson is under the complete control of Russian forces, the city's mayor has said, making it the biggest Ukrainian city to fall in the invasion thus far.

(PA Graphics) Credit: PA Graphics

Mayor Igor Kolykhaev said when Russian soldiers came to the city administration building, he asked them not to shoot civilians and to allow crews to gather up the bodies from the streets.

“We don’t have any Ukrainian forces in the city, only civilians and people here who want to LIVE,” he said in a statement later posted on Facebook.

Kherson is a city of 300,000 people, and its position on the Black Sea has led to fears forces from Moscow could use it for amphibious landings.

The mayor said Kherson would maintain a strict 8pm to 6am curfew and restrict traffic into the city to food and medicine deliveries. The city will also require pedestrians to walk in groups no larger than two, obey commands to stop and not “provoke the troops.”

Meanwhile, new shelling was reported in the northern city of Chernihiv, where emergency officials said at least 22 civilians had been killed in a Russian bombardment of a residential area.

They warned that the number of casualties could grow as rescuers search the debris.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine's second largest city, residents desperate to escape falling shells crowded the city’s train station and pressed onto trains.

Children on an unheated train that left Kharkiv in Ukraine. Credit: AP

Ukraine's emergency services said that since Wednesday, 34 people in Kharkiv were killed, while striking dashcam footage shows a bomb exploding in a residential area.

At least two people died in the nearby village of Yakivlivka after intense overnight shelling.

Mariupol, another seaport, is encircled by Russian troops, Britain's Defence Ministry said.

There are fears that, in recent days, hundreds of civilians have been killed there amid intense shelling.

Ukrainian forces are battling Russian troops for control of Enerhodar, which has Europe’s largest nuclear plant, the city’s mayor said.

In Ukraine's capital, Kyiv, four major explosions were reported overnight.

A residential building on fire in Kyiv

It was not immediately clear where the explosions hit or the number of casualties, though footage shows a resident block on fire.

A huge convoy bearing down on Kyiv

A 40-mile long convoy of Russian military vehicles continues to advance on the capital city of nearly three million people.

Despite the imminent and present threats, Ukrainian MPs sang the national anthem before voting on security laws on Thursday.

MPs sing the national anthem in Parliament

On Thursday, the UK Ministry of Defence said the convoy remains over 30 kilometres from the city centre, having been delayed by "staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown and congestion."

There are fears the military equipment could be used to step up the bombardment of the capital, resulting in a greater loss of life.

Are there any talks to stop the fighting?

The lack of progress in meeting the aims of the invasion had led to a change in tactics, focusing on aerial and artillery bombardment of cities rather than the kind of lightning military advances originally envisaged by the Kremlin, Western analysts believe.

Senior International Correspondent John Irvine and his team film the moment Russian tanks turn their turrets on the last convoy out of Mariupol

French president Macron warned the worst of Russia's invasion of Ukraine is yet to come after speaking to Putin on Thursday.

The Russian president told his French counterpart in a phone call between the two leaders there would be no let up in Moscow's invasion of Ukraine until it had achieved its aims to demilitarise and neutralise its neighbour.

According to one of his aides, Mr Macron reportedly condemned Putin's "lies" during the call and said Putin was aiming to seize all of Ukraine despite the Kremlin's claims it was not intent on occupying the country.

Is Russia committing war crimes in Ukraine? ITV News correspondents analyse latest developments

In a bid to end the fighting, a second round of talks began on Thursday, having originally been scheduled for Wednesday.

The Ukrainian delegation, dressed in camouflage as their country is bombarded, met with their Russian counterparts, who are dressed in suits, in the Brest region that borders Poland.

Russian is open to negotiations, its foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said, "but we will continue the operation because we won’t allow Ukraine to preserve a military infrastructure that threatens Russia."

How many people have died during the invasion?

On Thursday, the UN human rights office said 249 civilians have been killed and 553 injured. The office admits that these figures are a vast undercount - the UN uses a strict methodology and counts only confirmed casualties.

Ukrainian officials have presented far higher numbers. The state emergency service said more than 2,000 civilians have died since the invasion began, but this figure has not been independently verified.

In the week since the invasion begun, around one million refugees have fled Ukraine, the UN said. It's the swiftest exodus of people this century.

The tally from UNHCR amounts to more than 2% of Ukraine’s population being on the move.

Is Russia committing war crimes in Ukraine? Listen to our What You Need To Know podcast

Meanwhile, the Russian defence ministry said 498 Russian soldiers have been killed since the assault began. UK officials believe the actual number of fatalities to be "considerably higher".

Mr Zelenskyy claimed 9,000 Russian soldiers have been killed - a figure which could also not be verified - and urged them to return home as they would only face "resistance" from Ukraine.