Putin Denies Russia Bombing Ukraine Cities, Claims 'Gross Propaganda Fakes'

The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin denied that Russian troops were bombing Ukrainian cities and said the information was "propaganda fakes."

Putin was on a phone call with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz when he denied the allegations, the Kremlin said in a statement released Friday. The Kremlin added that Putin said he was open to dialogue with Ukraine but only if all of Russia's demands are met, according to NDTV.

Instances of the Russian military shelling Ukrainian cities have been reported since Putin ordered his "special military operation" eight days ago. Over 1 million people have fled Ukraine into neighboring countries and thousands of others are hiding in bomb shelters and subways deep underground to avoid airstrikes by the Russian military.

The European Union's diplomacy chief Josep Borrell said on Friday the Russian army is "bombing and shelling everything" in Ukraine, CNN reported. Ukrainian officials previously accused Russia of using cluster and vacuum bombs in attacks, which have been denounced by a total of 123 countries worldwide, including most of Western Europe.

"Today, what we see is the ugly face of war erupting again in our borders. And the Russians are bombing and shelling everything: hospitals, houses, schools. A lot of civilian casualties. It is a barbarian way of doing war," Borrell told journalists on Friday.

The U.N. human rights office says at least 227 civilians have been killed and 525 have been wounded in Ukraine since the start of the war. Ukraine's State Emergency Service said the total was more than 2,000 deaths. Meanwhile, Russia says nearly 500 of its troops have been killed and nearly 1,600 Russian soldiers have been injured, the Associated Press reported.

In Ukraine, major structures have been damaged by Russian airstrikes. On Tuesday, several buildings were hit in Freedom Square in the northeast city of Kharkiv. At least 10 people were killed and more than 35 were injured. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Russia was a "terrorist state" for the attack on Kharkiv, which he called a "war crime."

On Thursday, shelling from the Russian military hit Europe's largest nuclear plant in Enerhodar, Ukraine, leading to a fire in one of the facility's six reactors. Russian forces have since seized the Zaporizhzhia power plant. More than half of the plant's nuclear reactors were reported being offline on Friday.

"If it blows up, it will be 10 times larger than Chornobyl! Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!," Ukraine's Minister of Foreign Affairs Dmytro Kuleba posted on Twitter on Thursday.

A second round of peace talks between Russian and Ukrainian delegations ended on Thursday. Both sides agreed to organize humanitarian corridors to allow civilians to evacuate, but a Ukrainian official said no progress has been made to end the military action, according to Axios.

Zelensky's office previously said the key issues in negotiations were an "immediate ceasefire and withdrawal of troops from Ukraine." A third round of negotiations is expected in the coming days.

Update 3/4/22, 12:48 p.m. ET: This article was updated with additional information.

Putin Denies Bombing Ukraine Cities
The Kremlin says Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied that Russian troops were bombing Ukrainian cities, calling the information "propaganda fakes." Above, people walk past a residential building damaged by shelling in the northern Ukrainian city of Chernihiv on March 4. Dimitar Dilkoff / AFP/Getty Images