Ukraine is prepared to discuss adopting a neutral status as part of a peace deal with Russia but it would have to be guaranteed by third parties and put to a referendum, President Volodymyr Zelensky has said.

Mr Zelensky was speaking to Russian journalists in a 90 minute video call, an interview that the Russian authorities had pre-emptively warned Russian media to refrain from reporting.

Mr Zelensky spoke in Russian throughout.

He said Russia's invasion had caused the destruction of Russian-speaking cities in Ukraine, and said the damage was worse than the Russian wars in Chechnya.

"Security guarantees and neutrality, non-nuclear status of our state. We are ready to go for it. This is the most important point," Mr Zelensky said.

"This point of the negotiations is understandable to me and it is being discussed, it is being carefully studied".

Ukraine was discussing the use of the Russian language in Ukraine in talks with Russia, but refused to discuss other Russian demands, such as the demilitarisation of Ukraine, Mr Zelensky added.

A building in ruins in Mariupol, where two humanitarian corridors to evacuate civilians were agreed

The Kremlin earlier this month said Sweden and Austria offered models of neutrality that Ukraine could adopt to help end Russia's invasion.

Ukraine rejected the proposal saying only Kyiv could design a system that would be acceptable to Ukrainians.

Negotiations to end more than a month of fighting in Ukraine have focused on Ukraine staying out of NATO, disarmament and security guarantees.

The two sides are due to meet next for a second round of face-to-face talks next week in Turkey.

Earlier, Ukraine's military intelligence chief said Russia wanted to split Ukraine into two, as happened with North and South Korea, and vowed "total" guerrilla warfare to prevent a carve-up of the country.

After more than four weeks of conflict, Russia has failed to seize any major Ukrainian city and Moscow signalled on Friday it was scaling back its ambitions to focus on securing the Donbass region of eastern Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the Ukrainian army for the past eight years.

"In fact, it is an attempt to create North and South Korea in Ukraine," Kyrylo Budanov, the head of Ukrainian military intelligence, said in a statement, referring to the division of Korea after World War Two.

He predicted Ukraine's army would push back Russian forces.

A man says goodbye to his wife and seven-month-old child, as they take a bus to Poland from Lviv

"In addition, the season of a total Ukrainian guerrilla safari will soon begin. Then there will be one relevant scenario left for the Russians, how to survive," he said.

Ukraine's foreign ministry spokesperson also dismissed talk of any referendum in eastern Ukraine.

"All fake referendums in the temporarily occupied territories are null and void and will have no legal validity," Oleg Nikolenko said.

A local leader in the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic has said the region could soon hold a referendum on joining Russia, just as happened in Crimea after Russia seized the Ukrainian peninsula in 2014.

Crimeans voted overwhelmingly to break with Ukraine and join Russia - a vote that much of the world refused to recognise.

Meanwhile, US officials have continued efforts to soften comments yesterday from US President Joe Biden, who said in a fiery speech in Poland that Russian leader Vladimir Putin "cannot remain in power".

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Washington had no strategy of regime change in Moscow and that Mr Biden had simply meant Putin could not be "empowered to wage war" against Ukraine or anywhere else.

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Moscow says the goals for what Putin calls a "special military operation" include demilitarising and "denazifying" its neighbour. Ukraine and its Western allies call this a pretext for an unprovoked invasion.

The invasion has devastated several Ukrainian cities, caused a major humanitarian crisis and displaced an estimated 10 million people, nearly a quarter of Ukraine's total population.

In his Sunday blessing, Pope Francis called for an end to the "cruel and senseless" conflict.

"We must repudiate war, a place of death where fathers and mothers bury their children, where men kill their brothers without even seeing them, where the powerful decide and the poor die," he said.

People enter a bomb shelter in Ukraine

Mr Zelensky demanded in a late-night television address last night that Western nations hand over military hardware that was "gathering dust" in stockpiles, saying his nation needed just 1% of NATO's aircraft and 1% of its tanks.

Western nations have so far given Ukraine anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles as well as small arms and protective equipment, without offering any heavy armour or planes.

"We've already been waiting 31 days. Who is in charge of the Euro-Atlantic community? Is it really still Moscow, because of intimidation?" Mr Zelensky said, suggesting Western leaders were holding back on supplies because they were frightened of Russia.

Ukrainian Interior Ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said Russia had started destroying Ukrainian fuel and food storage centres, meaning the government would have to disperse stocks of both in the near future.

The scene in Lviv after yesterday's rocket strikes

Appearing to confirm that, Russia said its missiles had wrecked a fuel deposit yesterday as well as a military repair plant near the western city of Lviv, just 60km from the Polish border.

The British Ministry of Defence said Russian forces appeared to be concentrating their efforts on encircling Ukrainian troops directly facing separatist regions in the east.

"The battlefield across northern Ukraine remains largely static with local Ukrainian counterattacks hampering Russian attempts to reorganise their forces," the ministry said.

Mr Biden drew criticism for his improvised remarks during a speech in Warsaw that sought to frame the war as part of a historic struggle for democratic freedoms.

"For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power," he said of Putin. Earlier he called Putin a "butcher".

Civilians are being evacuated along humanitarian corridors from Mariupol

US officials tried to walk back the president's words.

"As you know, and as you have heard us say repeatedly, we do not have a strategy of regime change in Russia - or anywhere else, for that matter," Secretary of State Blinken told reporters during a trip to Jerusalem.

The United Nations has confirmed 1,119 civilian deaths and 1,790 injuries across Ukraine but says the real toll is likely to be higher. Ukraine said earlier that 139 children had been killed and more than 205 wounded so far in the conflict.

Ukraine and Russia agreed two "humanitarian corridors" to evacuate civilians from frontline areas earlier, including allowing people to leave by car from the southern city of Mariupol, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said.

The encircled port, located between Crimea and eastern areas held by Russian-backed separatists, has been devastated by weeks of heavy bombardment.

Thousands of residents are sheltering in basements with scarce water, food, medicine or power.