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Putin’s troops close in on Kyiv as Russia accused of ‘nuclear terrorism’

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massive convoy of Russian military forces outside Kyiv has advanced about three miles closer to the Ukrainian capital, a US defence official said on Friday, as new satellite photos appeared to show artillery pieces raised into firing positions.

Satellite imagery from Maxar Technologies showed that 40-mile convoy of vehicles, tanks and artillery has broken up and been redeployed, the company said on Friday. Armoured units were seen in towns near the Antonov Airport north of the city. Some of the vehicles have moved into forests, Maxar reported, with towed howitzers nearby in position to open fire.

The photos emerged the US and other nations were poised Friday to announce the revocation of Russia’s “most favoured nation” trade status, which would allow tariffs to be imposed on Russian imports.

Unbowed by the sanctions, Russia kept up its bombardment of Mariupol while Kyiv braced for an onslaught, its mayor boasting that the capital had become practically a fortress protected by armed civilians.

Ukrainian soldiers on an armoured personnel carrier pass by people carrying their belongings as they flee the conflict, in the Vyshgorod region close to Kyiv

/ AP

It came after Ukraine’s state regulator for atomic sites accused Russia of an “act of nuclear terrorism” after a fire broke out at a lab containing a reactor and radioactive materials.

Footage circulated on social media showed the blaze at the Kharkiv Institute of Physics and Technology, which Ukraine’s government said was shelled by Russian forces. The regulator said the situation was now under control.

As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine entered a 16th day, there were reports of shelling in the central city of Dnipro for the first time, with emergency services saying three air strikes had killed at least one person.

Outside Kyiv, the huge convoy of Russian military that massed outside the city early last week appeared to have stall amid reports of food and fuel shortages, and a bombardment of anti-tank missiles from Ukraine.

A woman covers herself with a blanket near a damaged fire truck after shelling in Mariupol

/ AP

But a US defence official speaking on condition of anonymity said the Russian forces had advanced about about three miles in the past 24 hours, with some elements within ten miles from the city.

The official gave no indication that the convoy had dispersed or otherwise repositioned in a significant way, saying some vehicles were seen moving off the road into the tree line in recent days.

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