Ukraine says allies should consider shooting down Russian missiles

US 'concerned' by China support to rebuild Russia defense industry: official
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Ukraine said Tuesday that its allies could shoot down Russian missiles from their own territory, an apparent appeal stemming from the war-torn country’s critical lack of air defence systems.

The comments from Foreign Minister Dymtro Kuleba came as Moscow began nuclear weapons drills close to Ukraine, in what Moscow said was a response to Western “threats”.

Kuleba suggested that Ukraine’s allies could intercept Russian missiles from abroad during a press conference with his German counterpart Annalena Baerbock, who warned that delaying aid to Ukraine also put Western countries’ security at risk.

Kyiv has urged the West to bolster its air defence systems in the wake of new Russian strikes that have crippled energy facilities, and a ground offensive that saw Kyiv cede several border villages in the northeast.

“There is no legal, security or moral argument that stands in the way of our partners shooting down Russian missiles over the territory of Ukraine from their territory,” Kuleba said.

“If you don’t want to do it, then just provide us with all the means necessary for this. We will deploy them on the territory of Ukraine and intercept these missiles ourselves,” he said.

The visit from Baerbock, who voiced concern on her arrival about the worsening situation on the front lines for Ukraine, began just after more than two dozen Russian drones targeted Ukraine overnight.

Speaking with Kuleba, she acknowledged the importance of providing air defence systems to Ukraine and said delays in providing military support to Ukraine harmed the West’s security.

“It is clear that every hesitation and every delay in supporting Ukraine costs the lives of innocent people. And every hesitation in supporting Ukraine also jeopardises our own security,” she said.

Arriving to Kyiv by train for her eighth visit to Ukraine since Russia invaded in February 2022, Baerbock had acknowledged the situation on the front had “dramatically deteriorated”, citing Russian air attacks and its major ground offensive in the Kharkiv region.

But she also voiced confidence that Ukrainian forces would achieve their goals and that the West would keep delivering aid.

“Our support is based on the deep conviction that Ukraine will win this war,” Baerbock said.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, who also met with Baerbock, warned last week that the Russian offensive launched this month in the Kharkiv region might be only a “first wave”, and that Russian troops could be aiming for the city of Kharkiv, the second largest in Ukraine.

The Russian official appointed by Moscow as governor of the Kharkiv region said Tuesday that his country’s forces were now in control of nearly half of Vovchansk.

The town near the Russian border had around 17,000 residents before the war and is now the epicentre of fighting.

“Our guys control about 40 percent of the city. They have cut deep into the defence and knocked out the enemy as far as they could,” said the official, Vitaly Ganchev.

“The northern part of the city has already been completely liberated,” he told Russian state television.

A Ukrainian military spokesman told state media that fighting in the border territories “remains difficult and is changing dynamically”.

But he also said the number of bouts with Russian forces had decreased.

In a rebuke to Baerbock, the Kremlin said that even if supplies of Western weapons to Ukraine picked up, more deliveries would not change Russia’s dominant position on the battlefield.

“It will still not allow the Ukrainian armed forces to somehow change the dynamics on the fronts,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Moscow had already announced earlier this month that its forces stationed near Ukraine would conduct the tactical nuclear weapons drills, without giving a clear date.

The defence ministry said Tuesday that the drills would test the “readiness” of its “non-strategic nuclear weapons… to ensure the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the Russian state”.

They come in “response to provocative statements and threats by certain Western officials”, the ministry added.

Zelensky has repeatedly called on Ukraine’s allies to provide at least seven more air defence systems, including at least two to protect the Kharkiv region.

Just before Baerbock arrived, the Ukrainian air force said it had intercepted 28 of 29 Iranian-designed attack drones launched by Russian forces overnight.

The unmanned aerial vehicles were downed over southern and eastern regions of Ukraine.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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