Putin's invasion grinds to a halt: Kyiv claims to have destroyed dozens of Russian helicopters overnight, retaken a city, and killed 11,000 troops while Russians have captured no significant territory sparking hopes Ukraine could win the war
- Ukraine claims to have destroyed dozens of Russian helicopters at an airfield near Kherson overnight
- Military also said it had recaptured Chuhuiv, near Kharkiv, and killed two commanders in the process
- Meanwhile units in Odessa claimed to have hit and destroyed a Russian patrol ship off the coast
- Experts say Russian losses becoming 'unsustainable' with no significant territory captured in recent days
- Click here for MailOnline's liveblog with the latest updates on the Ukraine crisis
By Chris Pleasance for MailOnline
Published: 02:37 EST, 7 March 2022 | Updated: 10:35 EST, 7 March 2022
Russia's invasion of Ukraine appears to have ground to a halt with no significant territory captured despite a weekend of heavy fighting, with Kyiv's men claiming to have taken out dozens of helicopters and recaptured a city this morning - sparking hopes that the unlikeliest of victories may be on the cards.
Putin's men renewed their bombardments on Mariupol, Chernihiv, Mykolaiv and Kharkiv this morning as hundreds of civilians tried to evacuate Irpin - on the outskirts of Kyiv - across a destroyed bridge after days of heavy attacks in an attempt to encircle the capital. But Russian commanders have not significantly advanced their frontline since the city of Kherson and nuclear power plant at Zaporizhzhia were captured last week. Meanwhile the Ukrainian armed forces claimed to have destroyed up to 30 Russian helicopters that had been moved to Chornobaivka airport, near Kherson, overnight and to have retaken the city of Chuhuiv, near Kharkiv, killing two Russian commanders - Lt. Col. Dmitry Safronov, and Lt Col. Denis Glebov - in the process. Later in the day, Urkaine said it had also recaptured the airport at Mykolaiv and repulsed a Russian counter-attack.
Video also emerged which appeared to show Ukrainian defence forces based in Odessa, the country's largest port, exchanging fire with ships overnight - one of which suffered a hit. Ukraine's ministry of defence has since claimed the vessel, a corvette named Vasily Bykov, was damaged. Images showed it afloat with black smoke pouring out in the early hours.
President Volodymyr Zelesnky, speaking this afternoon, said that Ukraine 'never wanted this war, but it was brought to us' and now its military is being forced to kill 'to knock the enemy from our land and our lives' while civilians endure 'what no other European country has seen in 80 years'.
Ukraine's military now estimates that 11,000 Russian soldiers have been killed in fighting along with the loss of 1,000 armoured vehicles, 290 tanks, 68 helicopters, 46 planes and dozens of other piece of hardware. Independent observers give lower totals, but Franz-Stefan Gady - of the International Institute for Strategic Studies - said the situation is never-the-less 'slowly becoming unsustainable for Russia'.
US intelligence believes Russia has committed 95 per cent of the invasion force it had assembled on Ukraine's border to the fight, meaning significant reinforcements to push its attacks forward are unlikely to come soon - and could simply run into many of the same logistical problems that plagued the early assault.
That has prompted some - including UK general Admiral Sir Tony Radakin - to predict that Russia could actually lose the war. Asked by the BBC on Sunday whether victory for Putin's men was 'inevitable', as many had predicted before the fighting started, he responded: 'No.'
Defeat for Russia does not automatically mean victory for Ukraine, however. Despite heavy losses Putin's men have still been able to capture key territory, particularly in the south, cutting Kyiv off from many of its vital Black Sea trading routes and naval bases.
Ukraine's forces have proven dogged in defence but it remains to be seen whether they can counter-attack successfully and push Russian forces back across the border.
It came as Ukrainian and Russian forces met in Belarus for a third round of talks between the two sides. Russia has for the first time raised the prospect of halting its operation, provided Ukraine recognises the independence of the Donbass, acknowledges Crimes as Russian territory and pledges never to join NATO. It is the first time that Russia has explicitly stated its position in talks, which Kyiv has rejected. t has also been announced that Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov will meet Ukrainian counterpart Dymtro Kuleba in Turkey on Thursday - the first high-level summit between the two sides on neutral ground since the fighting started.
In the meantime, Russia is expected to keep up its bombardment of Ukraine's largest cities with Moscow claiming to have opened up evacuation routes out of some of them - Mariupol, Sumy, Kharkiv and Kyiv - on Monday morning so civilians could flee. Ukraine quickly rejected the plan after it emerged most of the evacuation routes led into Russia or Belarus.
Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk rejected the ceasefire offer on Monday, saying it is 'not an acceptable option' for Ukrainians to flee to the country that is attacking them. Civilians 'aren't going to go to Belarus and then take a plane to Russia', she said.
A Russian T-72 tank is seen destroyed somewhere near the city of Mariupol in an image posted by the 'Azov Brigade', a unit of the Ukrainian National Guard that operates in and around the city
The tail-end of a destroyed Russian Su-34 fighter is seen crashed through the roof of a warehouse near Kharkiv having been shot down by Ukrainian forces overnight...