Bombs hit Kharkiv as UK claims China plans ‘lethal aid’ supplies to Moscow

Nato states in Baltic Sea region warn Russia not to attempt to redraw maritime borders

A Russian air strike injured at least 12 people in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv on Wednesday, as Nato states warned the Kremlin not to destabilise the Baltic region and Britain said China planned to supply Moscow with “lethal aid” for its war on Ukraine.

Prosecutors in Kharkiv – Ukraine’s second city and home to some 1.3 million people – said it was hit by two bombs launched from aircraft flying over the neighbouring Russian region of Belgorod. The border is just 35km from Kharkiv, which has been the target of intensified Russian bomb, missile and drone strikes in recent months.

The bombs destroyed a cafe, a car wash, several vehicles and blew out many windows in a 12-storey apartment block. The most seriously injured victim of the attack was the driver of a passing trolleybus, whose feet were later amputated in hospital.

The daily air strikes on Kharkiv, and a new Russian ground incursion into border areas of the region this month, have fuelled Ukraine’s frustration over the slow pace of arms deliveries from the West and a demand by many allies – including the US – that weapons they supply must not be used to hit Russian territory.


“To destroy the enemy, deter Russian pressure...we need prompt assistance from our partners. Our warriors must be able to use the necessary weapons as soon as possible,” Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Wednesday.

More than 10,000 residents of border areas have fled to Kharkiv and elsewhere since Russia sent troops into the region on May 10th. Ukraine says it has stabilised the situation in the area, but fighting continues for the town of Vovchansk, where a police officer was killed in a drone strike during an evacuation mission on Wednesday.

Ukraine’s military also reported fighting in the Kupiansk area of Kharkiv region and in several parts of neighbouring Donetsk province, where Russia has concentrated its efforts for most of a full invasion that began in February 2022.

Kyiv and analysts say Russia is trying to stretch Ukraine’s outnumbered and outgunned forces to weaken their defences in the Donetsk region, which is one of five Ukrainian provinces that the Kremlin claims as its own in a flagrant breach of international law.

“Today I can reveal that we have evidence that Russia and China are collaborating on combat equipment for use in Ukraine,” UK defence minister Grant Shapps said on Wednesday.

He told a conference in London that US and British intelligence had evidence that “lethal aid is now, or will be, flowing from China to Russia and into Ukraine...We should be concerned about that because in the earlier days of this war China would like to present itself as a moderating influence on” Moscow.”

Mr Shapps did not reveal evidence for what he called a “significant development”, but noted that China-Russia trade had expanded by 64 per cent since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Beijing insists it is not helping the Kremlin’s war effort, but western officials say huge amounts of “dual use” technology – which can have civilian and military functions – are flowing from China to Russia.

Russia’s defence ministry posted online and then deleted a proposal to redraw maritime borders in the Baltic Sea, prompting expressions of concern from regional Nato members Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Lithuania.

Daniel McLaughlin

Daniel McLaughlin

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