The Secretary General of NATO has warned of ‘more deaths, more suffering and more destruction’ to come in Ukraine, as world leaders pressed for a ceasefire amid further loss of life across the country.
Speaking in Brussels in the aftermath of a Russian attack on a nuclear power plant overnight, Jens Stoltenberg said Vladimir Putin’s invasion – now into its ninth day – was ‘the worst military aggression in Europe for decades’ – and called on him to withdraw his troops .
Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for a ceasefire after he spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky early this morning, with a Downing Street spokeswoman calling the situation ‘gravely concerning’. Several people were killed in the attack, Ukraine’s foreign ministry says.
Follow our live blog from Ukraine here
President Zelensky, meanwhile, said: “This night could have been the end of history for Ukraine and Europe. Russian tank operators knew what they were shooting at, they directly targeted the station.”
Mr Stoltenberg, reported Sky News, ruled out a NATO-led no-fly zone over Ukrainian, saying the alliance doesn’t want a war with Russia.
But he said: “The days to come are likely to be worse, with more deaths, more suffering and more destruction.” He said NATO was ‘not part of this conflict’ but has a ‘responsibility to ensure it does not escalate and spread beyond Ukraine’, which he said would be ‘devastating and dangerous’.
He also said there is evidence Russia is using cluster bombs ‘which would be in violation of international law’.
Following the bombing at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant, the head of the UN’s atomic watchdog this morning confirmed there has been no release of radioactive material. Rafael Mariano Grossi said the shelling caused a fire at a building on the site that has now been extinguished – and two people were injured.
Earlier, Putin was told at the UN ‘the whole world is against you’ as the UN Human Rights Council overwhelmingly backed a resolution condemning the Russian invasion and setting up a commission to investigate alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity, reports the BBC.
Yevheniia Filipenko told reporters: “The message to Putin has been clear: You’re isolated on a global level and the whole world is against you.”
Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba, meanwhile, spoke of ‘numerous cases’ of rapes in his country as the Russian invasion continued and welcomed a call backed by former Prime Minister Gordon Brown to create a special tribunal to punish Vladimir Putin for the crime of aggression against Ukraine.
Mr Kuleba told an online event organized by the Chatham House think-tank: “When bombs fall on your cities, when soldiers rape women in the occupied cities – and we have numerous cases of, unfortunately, when Russian soldiers rape women in Ukrainian cities – it’s difficult of course to speak about the efficiency of international law.
“This is the only tool of civilization that is available to us to make sure that, in the end, eventually, all those who made this war possible will be brought to justice and the Russian Federation, as a country that committed an act of aggression , will also be held accountable for its deeds.”
Other headlines as fighting continues across Ukraine this morning include:
– The city of Mariupol has continued to come under fierce Russian shelling
– There have been reports Russian troops have entered the city of Mykolayiv
– 47 civilians are reported to have been killed in Chernihiv, a city north of Ukraine
– More than 160 educational establishments in Ukraine have been targeted by Russians
– The younger brother of Polina, a girl shot dead with her parents in Kyiv, has also died
– Russian troops enter the city of Mykolayiv
Currently, no ceasefire agreement has been decided on between the two sides, leaving the war to rage on. Russian and Ukrainian delegations had gathered in the Brest region of Belarus to begin the second round of peace talks.
But, afterwards, Ukraine’s presidential adviser, Mykhailo Podolyak, tweeted: “The second round of negotiations is over. Unfortunately, the results Ukraine needs are not yet achieved.” While a third round of talks have provisionally been agreed, the war continues.
The Times, meanwhile, reported President Zelensky has survived three assassination attempts in a matter of days, with a spokesman for Boris Johnson admitting the PM was concerned for his Ukrainian counterpart’s safety.
He said: “Of course, everybody’s concerned for the safety and welfare of the President of Ukraine and the rest of the government, as well as the people of Ukraine who we’ve seen indiscriminately targeted over recent days.”
Sign up to the MEN email newsletters to get the latest on sport, news, what’s on and more by following this link
READ MORE: Dad who flew family from UK to Ukraine for ski holiday forced to sign up to fight Russia
READ MORE: Salford dad rushed to Ukraine border to help those fleeing for their lives
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.