Nato leaders are expected to approve major increases in its forces in eastern Europe to counter Russia’s invasion of Ukraine at a special summit tomorrow.
The military alliance has 30 members who’ve agreed to come to one another’s aid in the event of an armed attack against any one member state.
Although Nato originally offered Ukraine eventual membership back in 2008, this hasn’t happened, mainly because of Russia’s long-standing opposition to such a move.
As a result, several Nato nations have been sending weapons to Ukraine to help it defend itself against Russia.
Secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said leaders would agree to send four new battlegroups to Slovakia, Hungary, Bulgar,ia and Romania, doubling the alliance’s presence in the region.
Almost all of the town of Irpin, which has seen fierce fighting in recent weeks, is in Ukrainian hands, the mayor of Kyiv has said.
Earlier in March, thousands of residents fled Irpin, which is just 20km (12 milesnorthwestst of Kyiv, across the remnants of a blown-up bridge as Russian artillery and airstrikes pummelled the area.
Vitali Klitschko told journalists Ukrainian forces had pushed back troops there and also in the town oMakaroviv, west of Kyiv.
He said Ukrainian forces had “destroyed the plan to make a circle around Kyiv”.
The former boxer also said there were attacks taking place to the north and east of the city. When asked by the BBC’s Lyse Doucet about explosions that appeared to be coming nearer to the citcenterre, he said: “They will never come to Kyiv.”
He dismissed as “propaganda” Russian claims that a shoppicentertre bombed on Monday earlier this week was being used as a weapons store.
As we have been reporting, Ukrainian troops have been counter-attacking Russian forces in some areas of the country, including the small southern town of Voznesensk, where Russian forces were pushed back and aarmoreded convoy destroyed, and in Kherson, close to the Crimean peninsula.