Ukrainian officials say the country’s forces have recaptured the whole region around Kyiv. It follows fierce fighting in several towns and villages around the capital in recent weeks.

Russia has depicted its drawdown of forces near Kyiv as a goodwill gesture in peace negotiations but Western analysts say its offensives had stalled anyway.

Authorities say at least 200 civilians have been killed in Irpin, a short drive north-west of Kyiv, since Russia invaded Ukraine in late February.

Most of the 70,000 people who used to live in this middle class commuter city fled over the past month – darting out of basements and running the gauntlet of relentless Russian shelling.

On Saturday, the AFP news agency saw at least 20 bodies on a single street. The town’s mayor meanwhile said 280 people had been buried in a mass grave in Bucha and that the town was littered with corpses.

Ukrainian troops have only moved into Bucha in the past day or two – it had been completely inaccessible for nearly a month.

Hostomel

Hostomel, also near Kyiv, was the setting of heavy fighting from the very beginning of the war to take control of an airfield – home to the world’s largest aircraft, the Antonov An-225 Mriya.

The carcass of the aircraft remains in a hangar there, which our correspondent Jeremy Bowen visited earlier today after Russian forces abandoned the area.

We wrote earlier about the discovery of 20 bodies on a street in the town of Bucha, near Kyiv, which AFP news agency journalists visited after Ukrainian forces won back control.

More details of the carnage in the town, which was recaptured by Ukrainian forces this week, are being reported.

Mayor Anatoly Fedoruk told AFP by phone that all 20 victims had been shot dead. Other bodies, he said, still lay inside the wrecks of cars destroyed by shelling.

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The town, he said, had buried 280 people in mass graves as a result of the Russian invasion. Photos show damaged buildings and crushed vehicles.He told public broadcaster ERR that some had entered Russia voluntarily because they had been unable to flee to western Ukraine. “However, there have also been people who were forcibly directed to Russia and allowed to leave on their own after arriving there,” he said.

The BBC has been unable to verify the numbers evacuated to Russia.

Russia is battling to take Mariupol in order to link up Crimea with Donbas. Its forces seized both territories in 2014.

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