G7 leaders and Nato have pledged to support Ukraine in its war with Russia “for as long as it takes”, as Moscow fired another salvo of missiles at cities across the embattled state, further damaging its energy system and causing more power cuts in several areas.
Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy urged G7 countries to provide Kyiv with advanced air defence systems, to tighten sanctions on Moscow, to exclude Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin from any future peace talks, and to back Ukraine’s plan for international monitors to be stationed on its border with Belarus amid bellicose rhetoric from Minsk.
A day after 19 people were killed and 105 injured in a wave of Russian missile strikes on Ukrainian cities, G7 leaders said “indiscriminate attacks on innocent civilian populations constitute a war crime. We will hold President Putin and those responsible to account”.
“We will continue to provide financial, humanitarian, military, diplomatic and legal support and will stand firmly with Ukraine for as long as it takes. We are committed to supporting Ukraine in meeting its winter preparedness needs,” the leaders added after a meeting by video link on Tuesday, as Ukrainian infrastructure was again being bombarded.
Mr Zelenskiy, addressing the G7 from Kyiv, said his top priority was an “air shield for Ukraine… When Ukraine receives a sufficient number of modern and effective air defence systems, the key element of Russian terror – missile strikes – will cease to work.”
He said western weapons were already allowing Ukraine to shoot down a significant number of Russian missiles, but warned that his intelligence agencies believed Moscow was now awaiting delivery of a further 2,400 explosive-laden “suicide” drones from Iran.
Mr Zelenskiy also told G7 leaders they should rule out talks with Mr Putin, following his all-out invasion of Ukraine – which has killed thousands of civilians and displaced millions – and his recent declaration of sovereignty over four partially occupied areas of Ukraine.
“Everyone in the world should realise: talks can be either with another head of Russia – who will comply with the United Nations Charter, the basic principles of humanity and territorial integrity of Ukraine – or in a different configuration, so that the key terrorist does not have the opportunity to influence key decisions through terror,” he said. “Now one person is blocking peace – and this person is in Moscow.”
Russian officials have warned that arms supplies from western states could make them party to the war, and Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said they would “only make the conflict longer and more painful for the Ukrainian side, and will not change our objective or the final outcome”.
Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said alliance members would “step up and sustain our support for Ukraine”, which on the battlefield “has the momentum and continues to make significant gains, while Russia is increasingly resorting to horrific and indiscriminate attacks on civilians and critical infrastructure”.
“President Putin is failing in Ukraine. His attempted annexations, partial mobilisation and reckless nuclear rhetoric represent the most significant escalation since the start of the war – and they show that this war is not going as planned,” he added.
Ukrainian officials urged residents of several cities to cut electricity usage after more missile strikes on energy infrastructure left some areas without power.
Russia’s defence ministry said its military launched “long-range, precision-guided, air and sea-based weapons against military command and control facilities and the energy system of Ukraine… All designated targets were hit”.
Mr Putin said he ordered massive missile strikes on Ukrainian cities in retaliation for Kyiv’s alleged role in an explosion on Saturday that damaged the only bridge linking Russia with Crimea, which he annexed from Ukraine in 2014.