Ukraine seeks air defences from ‘lifesaver’ allies after latest deadly Russian strike

Seven killed in Dnipro region as Kyiv’s forces claim to have shot down Russian bomber

Ukraine said every country that provides it with urgently needed air defence systems was a “lifesaver” after at least five adults and two children were killed and 30 people were hurt in a Russian missile strike on the eastern city of Dnipro and nearby areas.

Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy reiterated his call for swift provision of more air defence systems and ammunition after Friday’s deadly rocket strike and ahead of an expected weekend vote in the US Congress that could unblock US military aid to Kyiv.

“Rescue operations are now under way in Dnipro after the Russian attack. Several floors of an ordinary residential building were destroyed; the train station was damaged. Kryvyi Rih and Synelnikove were also under attack in the Dnipro region,” Mr Zelenskiy said as he visited troops near the front line in neighbouring Donetsk province.

“Every state that provides air defence systems to Ukraine, every leader who helps convince partners that air defence should now not be in warehouses, but in real cities and communities that are under attack by terrorists... is a lifesaver,” he added.


“Russia must be held accountable for its terror, and every missile, every Shahed drone, must be shot down. The world can guarantee this, our partners have the necessary capabilities. This has been proven particularly in the skies of the Middle East, and it should also work in the skies of Europe.”

Ukrainians were frustrated to see the US, Britain and France directly intervene to shield Israel from missile and drone attacks last weekend, while refusing to protect Ukraine’s airspace due to what they call the risk of escalation and conflict with Russia.

Kyiv and its European allies hope a vote scheduled for Saturday in the US House of Representatives will finally remove a block placed by some Republican Congress members on a long-standing White House request for $60 billion (€56 billion) in fresh military support for Ukraine.

The Ukrainian air force said it intercepted 29 of the 36 missiles and attack drones fired by Russia early on Friday, and claimed to have brought down a Russian bomber flying over southern Russia, some 300km from Ukraine.

“For the first time, the anti-aircraft missile units of the air force, in co-operation with Ukraine’s military intelligence agency, destroyed a Tu-22M3 long-range strategic bomber – the carrier of Kh-22 cruise missiles that the Russian terrorists use to attack peaceful Ukrainian cities,” said Ukrainian air force commander Mykola Oleshchuk.

Moscow’s defence ministry said the plane crashed due to mechanical failure and that three crew members had survived after ejecting, while the fourth was missing.

Russian forces have continued to advance slowly in the Donetsk region since seizing the devastated town of Avdiivka in February, and are now approaching the strategic town of Chasiv Yar, near the ruined city of Bakhmut that they occupied last May.

After attending a meeting of G7 foreign ministers, Kyiv’s top diplomat Dmytro Kuleba said they had “identified specific steps” to help Ukraine. He did not give details, but said ensuring that Ukraine beat Russia would “save Europe from a larger war”.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

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