Zelenskiy: Ukraine’s air defence missiles are running out

Stark warning follows weeks of Russian strikes on Ukrainian energy infrastructure, towns and cities

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy has warned that Ukraine could run out of air defence missiles if Russia keeps up its intense long-range bombing campaign.

The Ukrainian leader’s starkest warning to date of the deteriorating situation faced by his country’s air defences follows weeks of Russian strikes on the energy infrastructure, towns and cities using a vast arsenal of missiles and drones.

“If they keep hitting [Ukraine] every day the way they have for the last month, we might run out of missiles, and the partners know it,” Mr Zelenskiy said on Ukrainian television.

Ukraine had enough air defence stockpiles to cope for the moment, he said, but added that it was already having to make difficult choices about what to protect.


He singled out in particular the need for Patriot missiles. The sophisticated US air defence systems had been vital during Russian attacks with ballistic and hypersonic missiles, and 25 systems would be needed to cover the country fully, he said.

The president also said Ukraine does not have enough ammunition for a counter-offensive against Russia but has started receiving some from partners to defend itself.

“We don’t have shells for counter-offensive actions. As for the defence – there are several initiatives, and we’re receiving weapons,” he said.

He said his country would agree to a US aid package in the form of a loan. “We will agree to any options,” he said, adding that the key thing was that the aid arrived “the sooner, the better”.

Russian forces attacked Ukraine with drones and missiles overnight, killing at least eight people and wounding 11 more in Kharkiv, Ukraine’s second largest city. Russia had attacked with 32 Iranian-made Shahed drones and fired six missiles, according to the air force commander.

Ukrainian air defences shot down three cruise missiles and 28 drones, Lt Gen Mykola Oleshchuk said. “Russian killers continue to terrorise Ukrainians and attack Kharkiv and other peaceful cities,” he said.

The Kharkiv region’s governor, Oleh Syniehubov, said that the missile strikes on the city had damaged homes, a petrol station, a kindergarten, a cafe, a shop and cars. The city has suffered extensive damage from months of Russian bombardment since Vladimir Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

A Ukrainian drone attack on the Morozovsk airbase in Russia’s Rostov oblast killed or injured 20 airfield personnel and destroyed six Russian warplanes, as well as badly damaging eight others, according to Ukrainian officials on Friday.

Russian defence officials, however, claimed they intercepted more than 40 Ukrainian drones and only a power substation was damaged in the barrage. Neither side’s claims could be independently verified. – Guardian