Ukraine asks for more Western air defense aid, NATO boosts security

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  • G7 promises more support for Kyiv and warns Moscow against nuclear weapons
  • Ukraine receives German air defense system
  • Moscow accuses the West of prolonging the war in Ukraine
  • NATO warns of attack on allies’ infrastructure

KYIV, Oct 11 (Reuters) – Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy on Tuesday continued his calls on the leaders of the Group of Seven countries for more air defense capabilities as the G7 pledged to support Kyiv “as long as it will have to”.

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

Russian missiles hit Ukrainian cities again, but with less intensity than on Monday, when dozens of strikes killed 19 people, injured more than 100 and knocked out power across the country in the largest air offensive of Moscow since the beginning of its invasion on February 24.

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Other 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, officials said local. Air raid sirens sounded earlier across Ukraine for a second day.

“When Ukraine receives a sufficient quantity of modern and effective air defense systems, the key element of Russian terror, rocket fire, will cease to function,” Zelenskiy told G7 leaders during a virtual meeting. where he again ruled out peace talks with Russian President Vladimir. Cheese fries.

Ukraine received the first of four IRIS-T air defense systems that Germany promised to supply on Tuesday, a German Defense Ministry source said.

The White House later said the United States was accelerating the shipment of sophisticated NASAMS air defenses to Ukraine. Washington has already provided more than $16.8 billion in security aid to Ukraine during the war.

Zelenskiy’s government has mixed gratitude for such help with continued calls for more powerful weapons and faster deliveries.

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen called on allies to quickly disburse current pledges to Ukraine.

‘UNCONTROLLED CLIMBING’

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

He also condemned “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilian populations” as war crimes and said Putin would be held accountable.

Putin is a “rational actor who miscalculated dramatically,” US President Joe Biden said in an interview with CNN.

Moscow, which calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to eliminate dangerous nationalists and protect Russian speakers, has accused the West of aggravating and prolonging the conflict by supporting Kyiv.

“We warn and hope that they realize the danger of an uncontrolled escalation in Washington and other Western capitals,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said on Tuesday, quoted by the RIA news agency.

Kyiv and its Western supporters accuse Russia of unprovoked land grabbing in Ukraine.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow was open to talks with the West, a claim Washington called “posturing” because Russia has continued to strike at Ukrainian cities.

In an interview on state television, Lavrov said Russia was willing to engage with the United States or with Turkey on ways to end the war, now in its eight months, but did not had not yet received any serious offer for negotiation.

Putin, under domestic pressure to escalate the war as his forces have lost ground since early September, said he ordered Monday’s strikes in response to a deadly explosion that damaged the Russian bridge to annexed Crimea. last weekend.

Residents of the capital Kyiv took shelter for a second day on Tuesday at the bottom of the underground metro, where trains were still running.

Viktoriya Moshkivski, 35, and his family were among hundreds of people at Zoloti Vorota station, near a park where a missile blasted a crater next to a playground on Monday.

“(Putin) thinks if he scares people he can ask for concessions, but he doesn’t scare us. He pisses us off,” she said as her sons, Timur, 5, , and Rinat, 3, were seated next to her. side on a sleeping bag, the youngest playing with an action figure.

MORE STRIKES

In recent weeks, Moscow has annexed new swathes of Ukraine, mobilized hundreds of thousands of Russians to fight and repeatedly threatened to use nuclear weapons, stoking alarm in the West. A European diplomat said NATO was considering convening a virtual summit of the alliance to consider its response.

NATO has not noticed any change in Russia’s nuclear posture following the threats, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters in Brussels on Tuesday.

Stoltenberg also said NATO allies would respond to any attack on critical infrastructure with a “united and determined response.”

It remains unclear who was behind last month’s explosions affecting Russian gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea. Moscow denied any involvement and said the United States would benefit if it could not transfer its gas to Europe.

The alliance will next week conduct its annual ‘Steadfast Noon’ nuclear readiness exercise – in which NATO air forces will practice using US nuclear bombs based in Europe with practice flights – without weapons real.

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Reports from Reuters offices; Written by Philippa Fletcher, Gareth Jones and Cynthia Osterman; Editing by Nick Macfie and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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