Maxar says satellite photos show huge Russian convoy outside Kyiv has broken up; forces moving into towns and forests nearby.
A large Russian military convoy that was mired outside the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, since last week appears to have dispersed, according to a United States-based company.
Maxar Technologies said satellite images taken on Thursday showed that the 64km (40-mile) line of vehicles, tanks and artillery has broken up and been redeployed.
The company said the images showed armored units maneuvering in and through the surrounding towns close to the Antonov airport, northwest of Kyiv.
Some of the vehicles have moved into forests, Maxar reported.
It added that images also show convoy elements further north have repositioned near the town of Lubyanka with towed artillery howitzers in firing positions nearby.
The convoy had massed outside the city early last week, but its advance appeared to have stalled amid reports of food and fuel shortages.
The convoy’s re-deployment comes amid reports that Russian forces have reached the northeastern edge of Kyiv, where suburbs including Irpin and Bucha have endured days of heavy bombardment.
Ukrainian soldiers there described fierce fighting for control of the main highway leading into the capital, and journalists at the AFP news agency reported seeing missile strikes in Velyka Dymerka just outside Kyiv’s city limits.
Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko said the capital had now been “transformed into a fortress”.
“Every street, every house is being fortified,” he told Ukrainian television. “Even people who in their lives never intended to change their clothes, now they are in uniform with machine guns in their hands.”
He added that about two million people – half the population of the metropolitan area – have left the capital.
“From our information, one in two Kyiv residents has left the city,” he said.
Western officials said Russian forces have made little progress on the ground in recent days and are seeing heavier losses and stiffer Ukrainian resistance than Moscow apparently anticipated.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin’s forces have used air power and artillery to pummel Ukraine’s cities.
The 15-day conflict has killed and wounded thousands of people and displaced millions.
The United Nation’s refugee agency estimates that at least 2.3 million have left Ukraine for neighboring countries, while another 1.9 million people have been internally displaced.