Zelensky seeks Western air defence systems as Russian attacks kill 10

Published March 3, 2024
RESCUERS work at the site of a heavily damaged apartment building in Odesa, following a Russian drone attack, on Saturday.—AFP
RESCUERS work at the site of a heavily damaged apartment building in Odesa, following a Russian drone attack, on Saturday.—AFP

KYIV: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Saturday urged the West to deliver more air defence systems as a wave of Russian missile, drone and artillery strikes killed at least ten people.

Seven were confirmed dead, including a three-month-old baby and two-year-old child, after an overnight drone strike on the southern port city of Odesa. Separate shelling attacks on the frontline Kharkiv, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia regions killed another three, Ukrainian officials said.

“Russia continues to hit civilians,” Zelensky said in a post on social media.

“We need more air defences from our partners. We need to strengthen the Ukrainian air shield to add more protection for our people from Russian terror. More air defence systems and more missiles for air defence systems save lives,” he said.

Ukraine is currently on the back foot as $60bn aid package is held up in the US Congress.

Ukraine is currently on the back foot in the two-year war as a crucial $60-billion aid package is held up in the United States congress.

In Odesa, “a nine-storey building was destroyed as a result of an attack by Russian terrorists,” Interior Minister Igor Klymenko said on Saturday in a post on Telegram.

The attack killed at least seven people, including a three-month-old baby, Klymenko said. Another child, aged two, was also among the dead, Odesa region Governor Oleg Kiper said on state TV.

Around 10 people were still unaccounted for, with almost 100 rescuers set to continue a search and rescue operation overnight. Footage shared from the scene showed several floors of a residential building collapsed and its facade ripped off. Ukraine’s air force said falling debris from Russian drones it had shot down fell onto residential buildings in both Odesa and Kharkiv.

Separate shelling attacks in the frontline regions of Kharkiv in the northeast, and Kherson and Zapo­rizhzhia in the south killed three more, the provincial heads said.

‘Difficult situation’

The attacks came with Russia seeking to press its advantage on the battlefield. Kyiv has admitted it is heavily outgunned and outnumbered, facing ammunition shortages amid aid delays.

Half of all promised Western ammunition arrives in the country late, the defence minister has said, in what he called critical delays that cost lives and territory.

Russian forces have advanced westwards following last month’s capture of Avdiivka, and have seized several small villages in recent days. Visiting frontline military posts on Saturday, Ukraine’s new Commander-in-Chief Oleksandr Syrsky said “the situation at the front remains difficult, but controlled”. Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2024

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