Ukraine urges western allies to bolster its air defences in fight against Russia

Military supplies from US remain stalled as attacks on Kharkiv leave seven dead

Officials in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second city, have said the country’s western allies should take “joint responsibility” for strengthening its air defences, after a family of five was among seven people killed in a Russian drone strike and US arms supplies remained frozen.

Hryhoriy Putyatin (38), wife Olha (35) and their sons Oleksiy (7), Mykhailo (4) and 10-month-old Pavlo were killed along with two neighbours when drones hit houses and a fuel depot in Kharkiv, about 35km from the Russian border. Officials said at least 15 houses were razed, more than 50 people hurt and dozens evacuated from the district.

“Russian terrorists must and will be held accountable for all their actions. History must remember that those responsible for such killings did not escape punishment,” said Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

Kharkiv has come under heavy drone and missile fire in recent weeks, almost two years after Russian troops poured over the nearby border and tried to occupy the city as part of their full-scale invasion of Ukraine. They were stopped on the outskirts, however, and then driven out of the region in a rapid counterattack by Kyiv’s forces in September 2022.


“Every day shows that without the reliable protection of the sky, we face tragedies, with losses that could have been avoided,” said Kharkiv mayor Ihor Terekhov.

“In my work, communicating with the country’s leadership, the military and our international friends, I always emphasise: we must all take responsibility for the protection of Kharkiv. This is our joint duty, because Kharkiv is more than a city. It is a symbol of our invincibility and courage, a symbol of the fact that we stand in defence of democracy.”

Ukraine said it shot down 40 of 45 Iranian-made “Shahed” attack drones fired by Russia on Sunday, during a five-hour barrage that targeted areas near the capital, Kyiv, and at least eight other regions. The main focus of the attack was infrastructure on the south coast, from where Ukraine exports grain and other commodities via the Black Sea.

Mr Zelenskiy has repeatedly urged western countries to ramp up delivery of air-defence systems and artillery ammunition as Russian troops launch nightly drone and missile strikes and intensify ground assaults on Avdiivka and other eastern towns.

Republican allies of former US president Donald Trump have blocked a White House bid to send $60 billion (€56 billion) in new military aid to Kyiv, however. Mr Trump said on social media on Saturday that the US “should never give money anymore without the hope of a payback or without ‘strings’ attached”.

Europe has struggled to increase its own arms production and fallen far short of its target for ammunition supplies to Ukraine, but Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said it must prepare for “potentially decades of confrontation” with Russia.

“This means shifting from slow peacetime to high-tempo conflict production,” he told the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag, adding that “we need to reconstitute and expand our industrial base faster, to increase deliveries to Ukraine and refill our own stocks”.

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Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin is a contributor to The Irish Times from central and eastern Europe