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Monday, May 20, 2024

Zelensky to Ask G7 for Air Defence Weapons after Russian Shelling

G7 leaders are also expected to issue a note of warning to Belarus

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RUSSIA/UKRAINE: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is scheduled to request aid from G7 member nations to urgently supply Ukraine with modern air defence artillery on Tuesday, to counteract heavy Russian missile attacks that continue to rain on cities across Ukraine.

G7 members include Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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New missile attacks killed at least one person in the southeastern town of Zaporizhzhia and cut the power lines in the Western city of Lviv, after Ukrainians woke up to the sound of sirens wailing overhead for a second day.

Other parts of the country remained blacked out after the cruise missile attacks on Monday, which killed nearly 19 people in one of the biggest air raids since the inception of Putin’s “special military operation”.

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Russian President Putin, under domestic pressure to ramp up the conflict as his forces began to lose ground since the start of September, said he ordered the civilian strikes to avenge the sudden explosion that struck Russia’s bridge to Crimea a day or two ago.

U.S. President Joe Biden and other G7 leaders will convene virtually later on Tuesday to discuss potential aid reliefs to Ukraine and to listen to Zelensky, who has called air defence systems his “number 1 priority”. Biden has already promised more air defences.

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British Prime Minister Liz Truss is also scheduled to partake in the meeting, according to 10 Downing Street. “The huge international support for Ukraine’s struggle contrasts sharply with Russia’s isolation on the international stage. Nobody wants peace more than Ukraine. For our part, we must not weaken one iota of our determination to help them win,” she added.

G7 leaders are also expected to issue a note of warning to Belarus, one of the few countries that have remained a faithful Putin ally since the beginning of the war. 

Belarus could face severe sanctions if it deploys its troops against Ukraine, French Foreign Affairs Minister Catherine Colonna told French radio. Russia had violated the rules of war with Monday’s attacks, she added.

Meanwhile, a mass condemnation of Russia’s fresh missile strikes against Kyiv continued as a group of 11 European countries lashed out against Russia in a joint statement, describing Putin’s actions as a deliberate act of violence targeting civilians, a war crime against humanity without a statute of limitations.

The joint statement was approved by the presidents of Bulgaria, Montenegro, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, North Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary.

According to the State Emergency Service, 19 people died, and 105 others were injured in the capital city. The hit was recorded at critical and civilian infrastructure facilities in 12 regions and in Kyiv, where more than 30 fires broke out

On Tuesday, Russia said it continued to launch long-range air strikes on Ukraine’s energy and military infrastructure, though the attacks did not appear to be as intense as the previous day.

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said the main targets were energy facilities.

“They’ve hit many yesterday, and they hit the same and new ones today. These are war crimes planned well in advance and aimed at creating unbearable conditions for civilians — Russia’s deliberate strategy since months,” he wrote on Twitter.

In an overnight video address from the scene of one of the attacks on Kyiv, Zelensky vowed that Ukraine would keep on fighting.

“We will do everything possible to strengthen our military forces. We will make the enemy’s life more difficult on the battlefield.”

Moscow has consistently blamed the West for inciting Ukrainian resistance to Russian occupation, further prolonging the war.

“We warn and hope that they understand the dangers of uncontrolled escalation in Washington and other Western capitals,” Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov was quoted as saying on Tuesday by the RIA news agency.

Russia has been somewhat overwhelmed by the degree of overflowing support for Kyiv from the West, especially the United States. Moreover, ever since Putin’s military call-up backfired, resulting in several hundred and thousands of Russians fleeing the borders, Russia has been in a tough spot.

However, despite threats and fears of even more harsh sanctions, Putin is open to meeting Biden at an upcoming G20 conference and would welcome talks on Ukraine and even accept a proposal if it proves effective and profitable.

Also Read: India Chooses Not to Reveal about the Upcoming U.N. Vote on Ukraine


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