As Ukraine and Russia prepare for face-to-face peace talks, US President Joe Biden has clarified remarks which had been seen as suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin should be removed from power.

Mr Biden tonight said it reflected his own moral outrage and not a policy change, and that he did not believe it would complicate diplomacy efforts.

The first face-to-face peace talks in more than two weeks take place in Turkey tomorrow.

However, a senior US official said the Russian president did not appear ready to make compromises to end the war.

"Everything I have seen is he is not willing to compromise at this point," the official told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Ukrainian officials also played down the chances of a major breakthrough at the talks, due to be held in Istanbul after Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan spoke to Russia's Vladimir Putin yesterday.

However, the fact they are taking place in person at all - for the first time since an acrimonious meeting between foreign ministers on 10 March - was a sign of shifts behind the scenes as Russia's invasion has become bogged down.

A police officer stands in rubble in Kharkiv
Residents shelter in Kharkiv - some have been there since the start of the invasion

On the ground, there was no sign of respite for civilians in besieged cities, especially the devastated port of Mariupol, whose mayor said 160,000 people were still trapped inside and Russia was blocking attempts to evacuate them.

But the mayor of Irpin, near Kyiv, said Ukrainian forces had seized back full control of the town.

"We have good news today - Irpin has been liberated," Oleksandr Markushyn said, adding that it expected further attacks and would defend itself. Reuters could not immediately verify the information.

The Kremlin said it was alarmed by US President Joe Biden's comment during a speech on Saturday that Mr Putin must not remain in power.

In Kharkiv, Ukraine's second-biggest city and one of its hardest hit, people were sweeping rubble out of a classroom on the third storey of a school, where a wall had been blown out by a missile before dawn.

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

Russia's military signalled last week it would concentrate on expanding territory held by separatists in eastern Ukraine, a month after having committed the bulk of its huge invasion force to a failed assault on Kyiv.

But Ukraine said it saw no sign Russia had given up a plan to surround the capital, where the mayor, Vitali Klitschko, said 100 people had been killed, including four children, and 82 multi-storey buildings had been destroyed. It was not possible to verify the figures.

When the sides last met in person, Ukraine accused Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov of ignoring pleas to discuss a ceasefire, while Mr Lavrov said a halt to fighting was not even on the agenda.

Since then, they have held talks via video link and publicly discussed a formula under which Ukraine might accept some kind of formal neutral status.

But neither side has budged over Russia's territorial demands, including Crimea, which Moscow seized and annexed in 2014, and eastern territories known as the Donbas, which Moscow demands Kyiv cede to separatists.

"I don't think there will be any breakthrough on the main issues," Ukrainian interior ministry adviser Vadym Denysenko said.

In an interview with Russian journalists at the weekend, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy mentioned some form of "compromise" involving Donbas, although he did not suggest this might involve ceding the territory.

In his latest comments he said territorial integrity remained Kyiv's priority.

Biden expressing personal 'outrage' in Warsaw speech

Joe Biden said of Vladimir Putin: 'For God's sake, this man cannot remain in power'

US President Joe Biden has refused to back down on his weekend declaration in a major speech that Russian leader Vladimir Putin "cannot stay in power" - arguing that he was voicing personal "outrage".

"I'm not walking anything back... I want to make it clear, I wasn't then, nor am I now, articulating a policy change. I was expressing moral outrage that I feel - I make no apologies for my personal feelings," he told reporters at the White House.

Mr Biden's remark, which was delivered in Warsaw, was seen as a gaffe by Republicans and some independent analysts concerned over a president going off-script when dealing with such a combustible conflict.

The Kremlin, which regularly denounces the West, has so far given only a measured response to Mr Biden's comment about Mr Putin.

Asked about the comment, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it "is certainly alarming", adding that the Kremlin would continue to pay close attention to the US president's comments.

Earlier, Mr Peskov said it was up to the Russian people to pick their leader.

Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special military operation" to disarm and "denazify" its neighbour.

Kyiv and the West consider this a pretext for an unprovoked invasion to try to topple the elected Ukrainian government.

Last week, Ukrainian forces went on the offensive, pushing Russian troops back in areas around Kyiv, the northeast and the southwest.

Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said there were no plans to open corridors to evacuate civilians from besieged cities today, because of intelligence reports of possible Russian "provocations" along the routes.

Elsewhere, Russia's armoured columns are bogged down, with trouble resupplying and making little or no progress.

Britain's defence ministry said there had been no major change in Russia's positions in the past 24 hours, with most Russian gains near Mariupol and heavy fighting underway there.

"As of today, the enemy is regrouping its forces, but they cannot advance anywhere in Ukraine," Ukrainian Deputy Defence Minister Hanna Malyar said.