Russian soldiers ‘are raping women in Ukrainian cities’

A delusional Vladimir Putin has again insisted that Russia is not bombing Ukrainian cities, despite fears that 100 people are buried under rubble after an apartment block near Kyiv was struck and after a cluster bomb attack on the city of Chernihiv which killed 49.

Putin, speaking on a call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz this evening, dismissed all reports of Russian attacks on apartment buildings, schools and hospitals as ‘fake’ – a day after going on TV to accuse Ukrainians of using civilians as ‘human shields’ while vowing not to back down from his attack.

As he spoke, emergency services in Ukraine warned that around 100 people could be buried in rubble after a rocket strike cleaved an apartment in the city of Boradyanka – 30 miles from Kyiv – in two, with rescue workers unable to get to them. Officials in Chernihiv also raised the number killed in a cluster bomb attack to 49.

The fighting raged on as NATO diplomats met in Brussels today, with Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying that NATO is ‘ready’ for war and will defend ‘every inch’ of member states’ territory – though resisted calls for a no-fly zone over Ukraine, saying that would violate the defensive alliances’ principles.

Jens Stoltenberg, head of the alliance who spoke alongside Blinken, said after a meeting of foreign ministers that NATO’s responsibility is to protect its 30 member states – two of which, Poland and Romania, directly border Ukraine – and to stop the conflict from spilling over into a Europe-wide war.

The duo spoke amid concerns in Washington that a ‘cornered’ Vladimir Putin – who faces near-total condemnation of his invasion abroad, growing dissent at home, and stiffer Ukrainian resistance than he bargained for – may ‘lash out’ by invading another country or threatening the West with nukes, according to the New York Times.

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