Russian troops take patients and doctors hostage in Mariupol hospital as thousands of civilians flee

Ukrainian servicemen and volunteers carry a man injured during a shelling attack into hospital number 3 in Mariupol
Ukrainian servicemen and volunteers carry a man injured during a shelling attack into hospital number 3 in Mariupol. Credit: AP

Patients and doctors in a Mariupol hospital are being held "like hostages" by Russian soldiers, a regional governor has said as he appealed for help from outside Ukraine.

Pavlo Kyrylenko, the head of the Ukrainian military administration in the Donetsk region, appealed to international human rights organisations to respond to what he called "crimes against humanity".

"It's impossible to get out of the hospital," Mr Kyrylenko wrote in a Telegram post. "They're shooting hard, we sit in the basement."

He went on: "Cars can't drive to the hospital for two days already. High-rise buildings are burning around. Russians drove 400 people from neighbouring houses into our hospital. We can't get out."

Mr Kyrylenko posted a picture of what the regional intensive care hospital looked like before it was "practically destroyed".

Elsewhere, Russian troops pounded the capital Kyiv as invading forces edged closer towards its main target.

Kyiv entered a 36-hour curfew on Tuesday night with ramped up security across the city, after another residential building was struck early in the morning, killing four people and injuring more.

In a sign of a major concession to Russia, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy told European leaders on Tuesday that Ukraine has accepted it will never be able to join NATO - one of Vladimir Putin's key demands.

The defiant president earlier reiterated his calls for an urgent no-fly zone over his country as he called for tougher action against Russia, in an emotional address to a packed Canadian Parliament that saw him receive a standing ovation.

On Tuesday, a top Ukrainian negotiator said he saw possible room for compromise in talks with Russia.

Presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak described the latest round of talks with the Russians, held via videoconference, as “very difficult and viscous" and said there were “fundamental contradictions” between the two sides - but added that “there is certainly room for compromise.” He said the talks will continue on Wednesday.

Another aide to President Zelenskyy, Ihor Zhovkva, struck a more optimistic note, saying that the negotiations had become “more constructive” and that Russia had softened its stance by no longer airing its demands that Ukraine surrender.

On a mission to show support for Ukraine, the leaders of Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovenia travelled to Kyiv for talks with President Zelenskyy on Tuesday.

In Mariupol, officials say a brutal seven-day siege in the city has killed more than 2,300 people, while 20,000 have fled - almost half of its residents.

Those left behind in the embattled city have been struggling to access food, water, heat and medicine, and rely on snowfall to melt down water to use.

Burning and heavily damaged apartment buildings and the destroyed Port City shopping mall in western Mariupol on Monday Credit: Maxar Technologies/AP

Civilians in 2,000 cars fled Mariupol along a 160-mile long humanitarian corridor on Tuesday in what is believed to be the biggest evacuation yet from the Mariupol.

The cars drove west to the city of Zaporizhzhia, with another 2,000 cars waiting to leave along the route, the council said.

On Monday, a pregnant woman and her baby died in Mariupol after Russia bombed the maternity hospital where she was meant to give birth.

None of the rescuers or the doctors ever knew her name, reports ITV News Europe Editor James Mates on the death of a mother and baby killed in the bombing of a Mariupol maternity hospital