Ukrainian forces regain control of Irpin, local mayor reports

Suburb 20km north-west of Kyiv has been scarred by some of the war's heaviest fighting

Cars drive past a destroyed Russian armoured vehicle as a convoy helps to evacuate Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv. AP
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Ukrainian forces have reportedly regained full control of Irpin, which has been one of the main hotspots of fighting with Russian troops.

The town, only 20km north-west of Kyiv, has suffered heavy shelling which has forced many of its residents to flee.

"We have good news today Irpin has been liberated," mayor Oleksandr Markushyn said in a video post on Telegram.

"We understand that there will be more attacks on our town and we will defend it courageously."

The reports come as negotiators from Moscow and Kyiv prepare for another round of face-to-face talks aimed at bringing the war, which broke out when Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, to an end.

Ukrainian officials played down the chances of a major breakthrough at the talks, due to be held in Istanbul after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday.

Ukraine is ready to discuss adopting a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia but such a pact would have to be guaranteed by third parties and put to a referendum, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said in remarks broadcast on Sunday.

Speaking to Russian journalists in a 90-minute video call, an interview that Moscow authorities pre-emptively advised Russian media to refrain from reporting, Mr Zelenskyy said no peace deal would be possible without a ceasefire and troop withdrawals.

He ruled out trying to recapture all Russian-held territory by force, saying it would lead to a Third World War, and said he wanted to reach a "compromise" over the eastern Donbas region, held by Russian-backed forces since 2014.

One senior US official said Mr Putin does not appear willing to make compromises to end the violence.

"Everything I have seen is he is not willing to compromise at this point," the State Department official told Reuters on condition of anonymity after Ukraine's president had sketched out a potential way to end the crisis.

"So, how far we go in trying to offer him off-ramps that undercut the sovereignty of Ukraine and the decisions that [Ukrainian] President Zelinskyy would have to make, I don’t have a good insight for you," they said.

Updated: March 28, 2022, 6:24 PM