Ukraine seeks more Western air defence help, NATO tightens security

KYIV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy continued his appeals to leaders of the Group of Seven nations on Tuesday (Oct 11) for more air defence capabilities as the G7 vowed to support Kyiv for “as long as it takes”.

NATO said it was closely monitoring Russia’s nuclear forces following a string of Russian battlefield defeats in Ukraine and that the allies were also boosting security around key infrastructure after recent attacks on Baltic Sea gas pipelines.

Russian missiles again hit Ukrainian cities but with less intensity than on Monday, when dozens of strikes killed 19 people, wounded more than 100 and knocked out power across the country in Moscow’s biggest aerial offensive since the start of its invasion on Feb 24.

More missile strikes killed at least one person in the southeastern Ukrainian town of Zaporizhzhia and left part of the western city of Lviv without power, local officials said. Air raid sirens earlier wailed across Ukraine for a second day.

“When Ukraine receives a sufficient quantity of modern and effective air defence systems, the key element of Russia’s terror, rocket strikes, will cease to work,” Zelenskyy told G7 leaders at a virtual meeting where he again ruled out peace talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Ukraine on Tuesday received the first of four IRIS-T air defence systems Germany promised to supply, a German defence ministry source said.

The White House later said the United States was speeding up the shipment of sophisticated NASAMS air defences to Ukraine. Washington has already provided more than US$16.8 billion worth of security aid to Ukraine during the war.

Zelenskyy’s government has mixed gratitude for such aid with continued pleas for more powerful weapons and faster deliveries.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on allies to swiftly disburse current commitments to Ukraine.

“UNCONTROLLED ESCALATION”

The G7 – which groups the United States, Germany, France, Japan, Britain, Italy and Canada – pledged continued “financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support … for as long as it takes” to Ukraine, it said in a statement.

It also condemned “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilian populations” as war crimes and said Putin would be held to account for them.

Putin is a “rational actor who has miscalculated significantly”, US President Joe Biden said in a CNN interview.