'Still not covering the skies': Kyiv calls for air defenses after 4 killed in attacks

AFP || Shining BD

Published: 3/28/2024 5:09:19 AM

Russian attacks on eastern and southern Ukraine killed at least three people on Wednesday, officials said, as Kyiv called for more Patriot air defence systems to battle a surge in missile strikes.

Moscow has escalated aerial attacks on Ukraine in the past few weeks, targeting key infrastructure -- including power stations -- in retaliation for fatal bombardments of Russia's border regions.

In Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv, which has been reeling from power outages due to the strikes, aerial bombing and shelling killed at least one person and injured 19 others, including four children, officials said. 

And a 12-year-old boy was killed in a strike in the village of Borova in Kharkiv region Wednesday evening, according to prosecutors.

President Volodymyr Zelensky urged Ukraine's allies to speed up deliveries of warplanes and air defence systems following the strike.

"Bolstering Ukraine's air defence and expediting the delivery of F-16s to Ukraine are vital tasks," he said in a statement on social media. 

"There are no rational explanations for why Patriots, which are plentiful around the world, are still not covering the skies of Kharkiv and other cities," he added.

The governor of Ukraine's southern Kherson region, which is partially occupied by Russia, said one woman had been killed in a drone attack on the village of Mykhailivka.

"A 61-year-old local resident was fatally wounded in her own home," the official, Oleksandr Prokudin, wrote on social media.

And in the southeastern city of Nikopol, officials said artillery fire killed a 55-year-old man, while a ballistic missile strike on the coastal territory of Mykolaiv left eight wounded.

- 'Little time' -

The Ukrainian air force said Russia had launched 13 Iranian-designed attack drones overnight and that 10 were downed over the Kharkiv region, the neighbouring Sumy region and near the capital Kyiv.

During a briefing on Wednesday, Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba stressed that Western air defences were crucial to protect Ukrainian cities from Russian shelling.

"The peculiarity of the current Russian attacks is the intensive use of ballistic missiles that can reach targets at extremely high speeds, leaving little time for people to take cover and causing significant destruction," Kuleba said.

"Patriot and other similar systems are defensive by definition. They are designed to protect lives, not take them," he said.

Zelensky meanwhile was in the northeastern Sumy region bordering Russia, where he met with soldiers recovering from injuries and visited newly built defence lines.

"I inspected trenches, dugouts, firing and command and observation posts," Zelensky wrote in a social media post. 

"We are strengthening our defences," he said.

Ukraine has been forced onto a defensive footing in the past few months as it struggles with ammunition shortages amid delays to a $60 billion aid package from Washington.

Its ground forces commander warned last week Russia was gathering more than 100,000 soldiers in advance of what may be a major offensive this summer, as Moscow seeks to press its advantage on the battlefield.

Russia meanwhile announced that its air defence systems had shot down 18 rockets near the border city of Belgorod, which has been regularly targeted by fatal Ukrainian attacks.

The governor of Russia's Belgorod region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, said two people were wounded during the barrage and later drone attack.

Shining BD