Russia's lead negotiator in peace talks with Ukraine has said that Russia was willing to resume negotiations but the initiative to continue them was with Kyiv.

"For our part, we are ready to continue the dialogue," Kremlin aide Vladimir Medinsky said in an interview with Belarusian TV.

"Freezing talks was entirely Ukraine's initiative, Mr Medinsky said, adding that the "ball is completely in their court".

He added that "Russia has never refused talks".

Talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations have been held regularly both in person and via video-link since the Russian military offensive began on 24 February.

The Ukrainian and Russian foreign ministers met for inconclusive talks in Turkey in March, followed by a meeting of the delegations in Istanbul, which also failed to bring about concrete results.

We need your consent to load this rte-player contentWe use rte-player to manage extra content that can set cookies on your device and collect data about your activity. Please review their details and accept them to load the content.Manage Preferences

On Tuesday, Kyiv's lead negotiator Mykhaylo Podolyak said that talks with Moscow were "on hold" after being held regularly in the earlier stages of the conflict but without substantial results.

Meanwhile, Ukraine has extended martial law for three months through to 23 August as Russia's invasion shows no signs of abating.

President Volodymyr Zelensky first signed the decree along with a general military mobilisation call when Russian forces invaded.

Ukraine's parliament voted by an absolute majority for the third extension of the decree as Russia pursues its offensive targeting the eastern Donbas region.

A woman stands outside her heavily damaged house after it was hit by a missile in the city of Bakhmut in the region of Donbas

After failing to take control of the capital Kyiv, Moscow has since March switched its focus to the east of Ukraine.

Ukraine also ruled out a ceasefire or any territorial concessions to Moscow as Russia stepped up its attack in the country's east and south, pounding the Donbas and Mykolaiv regions with air strikes and artillery fire.

Kyiv's stance has become increasingly uncompromising in recent weeks as Russia experienced military setbacks while Ukrainian officials grew worried they might be pressured to sacrifice land for a peace deal.

"The war must end with the complete restoration of Ukraine's territorial integrity and sovereignty," Ukraine's presidential chief of staff Andriy Yermak said in a Twitter post.

Polish President Andrzej Duda offered Warsaw's backing, telling lawmakers in Kyiv that the international community had to demand Russia's complete withdrawal and that sacrificing any of it would be a "huge blow" to the entire West.

"Worrying voices have appeared, saying that Ukraine should give in to (President Vladimir) Putin's demands," Mr Duda said, the first foreign leader to address Ukrainian parliament in person since Russia's 24 February invasion.

"Only Ukraine has the right to decide about its future," he said.

People look at destroyed Russian armoured vehicles displayed for Ukrainians to see at Mykhailivska Square in downtown Kyiv

Speaking to the same parliamentary session, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy renewed a plea for stronger economic sanctions against Moscow.

"Half-measures should not be used when aggression should be stopped," he said.

Shortly after both finished speaking, an air raid siren was heard in the capital, a reminder that the war raged on even if its front lines are now hundreds of kilometres away.

Russia is waging a major offensive in Luhansk, one of two provinces in Donbas, after ending weeks of resistance by the last Ukrainian fighters in the strategic southeastern port of Mariupol.

The heaviest fighting focused around the twin cities of Sievierodonetsk and Lysychansk, interior ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko told Ukrainian television.

Smoke rises from an oil refinery after an attack outside Lysychansk in Donbas

The cities form the eastern part of a Ukrainian-held pocket that Russia has been trying to overrun since mid-April after failing to capture Kyiv and shifting its focus to the east and south of the country.

Russia's defence ministry said that its forces pummeled Ukrainian command centres, troops and ammunition depots in Donbas and the Mykolaiv region in the south with air strikes and artillery.

Reuters was unable to independently verify those battlefield reports.

Russian-backed separatists already controlled parts of Luhansk and neighbouring Donetsk before the invasion, but Moscow wants to seize the remaining Ukrainian-held territory in the region.

An explosion severely injured a Russian-appointed mayor in the town of Enerhodar, Russia's RIA news agency reported. Reuters could not immediately establish what caused the explosion.

No concessions, no ceasefire

Ukraine's lead negotiator Mykhailo Podolyak, who is an adviser to President Zelenskiy, ruled out any territorial concessions and rejected calls for an immediate ceasefire, saying it meant Russian troops would stay in occupied territories, which Kyiv could not accept.

"The (Russian) forces must leave the country and after that the resumption of the peace process will be possible," Mr Podolyak said in an interview with Reuters yesterday, referring to calls for an immediate ceasefire as "very strange".

Concessions would backfire because Russia would use the break in fighting to come back stronger, he said.

Recent calls for an immediate ceasefire have come from US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi.

The end of fighting in Mariupol, the biggest city Russia has captured, gave President Putin a rare victory after a series of set backs in nearly three months of combat.

The last Ukrainian forces holed up Mariupol's vast Azovstal steelworks have surrendered, the Russian defence ministry said on Friday.

While Ukraine has not confirmed a full withdrawal, the commander of one of the units in the factory, said in a video that Ukraine's military command had ordered the troops there to stand down in order to preserve their lives.

Full control of Mariupol gives Russia command of a land route linking the Crimean Peninsula, which Moscow seized in2014, with mainland Russia and parts of eastern Ukraine held by pro-Russia separatists.

Invading Russian forces had targeted residential apartment buildings during their attacks on Kharkiv

Russia cuts gas to Finland

Russian state gas company Gazprom said yesterday that it had halted gas exports to Finland, which has refused Moscow's demands to pay in roubles for Russian gas after Western countries imposed sanctions over the invasion.

Most European gas supply contracts are denominated in euros or dollars and last month Moscow cut off Bulgaria and Poland after they rejected the new terms.

Along with sanctions, Western nations have stepped up weapons supplies to Ukraine.

Yesterday, Kyiv got another huge boost when US President Joe Biden signed a bill to provide nearly $40 billion in military, economic and humanitarian aid.

Moscow says Western sanctions and the arms deliveries for Kyiv, amount to a "proxy war" by Washington and its allies.

President Putin calls the invasion a "special military operation" to disarm Ukraine and rid it of radical anti-Russian nationalists.

Ukraine and its allies have dismissed that as a baseless pretext for the war, which has killed thousands of people in Ukraine, displaced millions and shattered cities.